The Best Free News Apps for Commuters
Sports, finance, entertainment, health — we’ve got you covered
With more than 2.1 million apps to choose from for Google Play customers and a hair less for iOS devotees at 1.8 million, the sheer number of choices available for where to get your news can feel as daunting as, well, the news.
But when politicians and pundits throw their opinions on what constitutes “fake news” around like fact, it becomes difficult to discern what’s real — and worth your time — from what isn’t.
So we checked (you’re welcome), and broke things down for you. Find our favorite downloads for news, sports, finance, entertainment and health below.
Possibly the most user-friendly news aggregation app, SmartNews also happens to cheerfully organize its categories by color-coded tabs labeled Entertainment, Lifestyle, U.S., Politics, Sports, “Biz”, Tech, Science, “Buzz” (silly internet stuff) and Social — which links to the news you’d find in your own Twitter feed. SmartNews shares articles pulled from both traditional news sources like the New York Times, CNN and Fox News, along with features and editorials you’re used to reading from publications like Variety, People, ESPN, Sporting News and Deadspin.
Everything is curated by an algorithm that takes into account your personal user behavior, so you end up with a good mix of what everyone’s reading and what you, specifically, tend to read. It also caches a ton of content each time you open the app, making it perfect for commuters who deal with spotty wireless.
With an average rating of 4.5 stars from over 73,000 Apple customers, it’s a simple way to see literally all the news without any annoying advertisement banners flying at you — for free.
Download here: iOS / Google Play (Ed. note: That link will give you a version that comes pre-loaded with a special InsideHook tab)
Sports: Bleacher Report
No, it’s not one of the legacy brands you grew up trusting or even one that comes with a print option for its readers. But as someone with several sports apps on her phone, I have to concede (after initially resisting) that Bleacher Report gets me breaking news about the teams and sports that I follow, as well as alerts me to the most important sports-world updates long before the proverbial worldwide leader.
If you only want your feed to focus on the specific teams, sports and leagues you care most about, then that’s all you’ll see in your dedicated “Team Stream” in real time. One of the reasons that the Bleacher Report app is the best is because it’s not trying to do too much: if its own editors and reporters aren’t bringing you the information you need, BR will push you syndicated information from other sites that have it first.
Finance: CNBC: Stock Market & Business
This money-centric app from CNBC is the financial baby of NBC News. It touts an “actionable” approach to your personal finance portfolio by pushing breaking finance news through both the in-app feed and via push notifications, if you allow them, as well as personalized market figures based on the stocks and companies you want to track. Quotes are updated in real time with the drag of a finger from markets across the globe, with interactive charts pulled together to help you better understand any potential impact these fluctuations could have on your wallet.
Downloading the app also allows cable-news subscribers to stream some of the network’s most popular shows, like Mad Money, American Greed, Shark Tank, Deal or No Deal and Jay Leno’s Garage.
The IMDB app is so much more than a place to settle arguments when you can’t remember that one guy with the hair who had a bit part in that episode of The Office 10 years ago. The app’s homepage is also a feed of the latest celebrity and entertainment news. With a quick scroll, you can see which series was just renewed (or canceled), the films at the top of the box office or photos of the red carpet at Cannes. The app also populates interesting tidbits of Hollywood-inspired knowledge, like which famous face was born today, what’s trending and why. There’s also a trivia page for quizzing your friends.
The IMDB app also allows users to create watchlists and lists of their favorite movies, plays, shows and celebs for quick access to their given pages or news alerts. And it remembers who and what you search and offers recommendations — but only if you choose to venture over to that tab.
Health & Wellness: Medscape MedPulse
Full disclosure: as a reporter who covers health news and trends, I use the Medscape app. Don’t let the handful of steps the app will ask you to complete before getting to the news feed dissuade you, because the information you provide Medscape will only make your experience with the app more fulfilling.
Let’s say you or someone you love was recently diagnosed with an illness that falls into a medical category like gastroenterology, infectious disease, neurology or oncology (don’t worry, the app includes dozens more options) and your head is spinning with the sheer amount of information available on the internet. This is one place where you can find new studies, peer-reviewed papers, breaking medical news and information on health trends.
The language isn’t jargon-y and the information doesn’t feel condescending or paranoia-inducing. It’s digestible medical information that doesn’t make you feel stupid or like you’re absolutely, without a doubt dying of a rare jungle parasite. Who knew?