In the age of the Internet, RSS feeds, and informative MUO articles, there’s very little time these days to read actual newspapers and even watch say CNN. But keeping up with local, national, and world news is still important for many reasons, and a new iPhone app called Circa may be the minimalist solution to your consumption of news.
Circa is about managing and tracking the news stories you’re interested in. The app is easy to navigate, and well designed. But there are several features I hope may added over time.
How It Works
Circa works on this premise – sometimes when you hear a news story on television and read it in the newspaper, you may want to follow that story to see how it develops. Circa is developed for an easy way to keep track of the news stories and updates.
Circa opens with a set of “Top Stories” and “Election 2012” actually chosen by a team of Circa editors who gather “important and breaking stories from around the world” specifically for the app. The editors cull stories from a variety of sources including newswires and online news sites.
Stories published in Circa are written in bite size paragraphs, called “points”, which basically enable you to read stories, ad-free, in just a few minutes. Stories may include a few photos, but the main focus is on 8-10 “points,” that make up a typical story.
As you browse stories, you can tap the + button to add the story to your Follow list, where you will get updates for your selected stories. When the app launches, your stories will refresh, or you can tap the Refresh button in the upper-right corner in your Follow list.
Instead of writing whole new follow-up stories, Circa editors adds “points” to the stories, so you get the essential new news items the editors think you need to know. You also notice for each story there is a set of stars and dots on the right side. Circa calls those the Progress Bar, in which dots and stars represent each point of the story.
Stars are the most important point, and will always come first, says Circa. New points added to the story are colored in mint-green. For most stories, Circa includes the sources for stories.
You can be notified about story updates in your iPhone’s Notification Center and Badge App Icon. You can of course un-follow stories by tapping the check button.
As you would expect, Circa also features a way to share both “points” of a story or an entire story to your Facebook and Twitter accounts.
By sharing only a point of a story, you’re sort of doing what Circa editors do: you select for your contacts the most “important” part of a story you think you need to know.
So basically, Circa can be your daily “newspaper”, but there are a few features I hope get added to the app, if possible. These features include a categorization of stories broken up into say Politics, World News, Technology, Entertainment, etc, similar to how newspapers are broken up. The browsing list of Circa is quite lengthy, and without categories some stories may be get overlooked by users.
The Circa homepage consist of sections for Followed Stories, Top Stories, and Election 2012. The latter sections include a photograph. I would like to see my selected “follow” stories as sections on the homepage with a leading photo for each, instead of having to tap the Follow Stories to see just a textual list of stories. Or maybe users can select which of follow-up stories we want to see on the homepage.
And of course, I definitely hope Circa is working on an iPad version of its news app. The iPad app will give Circa a more newspaper or magazine feel and orientation.