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Random for iOS lets you explore the web in a unique way

Mel Martin
Mel Martin|March 27, 2014 8:00 PM

Random - The App (free) is a new app that lets you discover interesting web content from several sources. The app has been in development for a few years, and it was backed by by Skype co-founder, Janus Friis.

When you first start the app, you will see some subject headings. Click on one, and you'll be taken to a story that fits the subject. When you'e finished, the app will have more subjects to explore that are related to what you just clicked on.

Note that you cannot go back to that previous page, however. So choose the one topic you want to browse carefully, as there's no back button.

"Discovering content online has become a stale experience that's primarily driven by typing and clicking and trying to keep up with our social feeds. We're being led down the same path to similar content repeatedly," said Marko Anderson, co-founder of Random. "We created Random to inspire people to be curious and to embrace serendipity."

The app certainly works. You wind up looking at things you might not see otherwise, and it is far less limiting than a news app or an online magazines.

The presentation is nice on the eyes. Screens fade from one to another, and there seems to be an almost endless array of colors for backgrounds. The app learns from your selections, and over time it 'self-tunes' to meet your interests, yet it still offers surprising content you would probably not find surfing in more traditional ways.

You can use Random without signing up for anything. Just tap and go. You can also open any Random-generated page in Safari. Random will show you eessays, web pages, videos or photographs. In short, almost anything that is on the web.

In the early days of the Internet, we were awash in information. As things got more organized, it was possible to live in a walled garden getting only the type of news or information we wanted. That's positive, but it also has negative aspects, because we can surround ourselves with information we already agree with, never having our ideas challenged. Of course, that's an extreme example, but apps like Random redress the balance and drop ideas into our lives that we may want to explore but would not otherwise see.

If I could change anything about the app, it would be that once I get to a subject, I like to explore that particular subject more deeply. I clicked on films, and got taken to a review of "Noah." I wanted to read more, but next click I was presented with lots of other cinema stories, but nothing about "Noah." Maybe that's by design, but I felt my exploration was thwarted by the rules.

Give Random a try and see if it satisfies some of your intellectual curiosities. It's a very interesting idea, and nicely executed. Random is a universal app and requires iOS 6 or later.

Random for iOS lets you explore the web in a unique way