MSNBC recently added an iPhone app to the store, so we thought it was a good time to take a look at a few news apps.
The gold standard for news on the iPhone is the USA Today app. Love them or hate them, the USA Today punchy writing style feels right at home on the iPhone. News can be received from a wide range of mobile sources, and it's the design of this app that makes it stand out. I would love to have the authors pack my suitcase the next time I travel, since they have found a way to cram an incredible amount of information into a very small package. Using persistent buttons on the bottom of each screen, you can get to Headlines, Sports Scores, Weather, Photo Galleries, and Snapshots (which are a set of insta-polls), from anywhere.
What makes it special is that, along with the local weather, at the top of most category screens there is a sliding set of sub-categories allowing you to get to just what you want in no time. For example, if you wanted to get the score of the Yankees' game, just tap Scores, and the sub-categories of NFL, MBL, NBA, NCAAF and NCAAB appear at the top of the screen. Tap MLB and there it is. Two taps total.
Similarly, tapping Headlines brings up sub-categories of: Top News, News, Money, Sports, Life Tech and Travel. When in any category, tap Top Stories and you can set a default for the type of story you would like to see first. For example, under the sub-category of Money, you can choose to set the default to: Top Stories, Markets, Economy, Cars, Personal Finance or Industry. Set it up once and you'll be able to drill down to specific results in a universe of information with just a few taps.
Tap on Share Article and you can Email, Text, Twitter (your Twitter client can be chosen in the setup pane), or log into Facebook. in all the apps covered here, you can share, but this has the most robust feature set of the lot. The fit, finish and depth of the app is, okay I'll say it -- awesome. Weather is location enabled, the Picture Galleries are extensive and under Snapshots there are nine running polls in each of the four sub-categories of News, Sports, Money and Life. USA Today is not just for hotel rooms anymore.