Created by former engineers from Bing and Google News, this app has a smooth UI and great initial boxed layout aesthetic, but when it comes to offering a truly personalized newspaper for the iPad whether Apollo falls short is debatable.
The overall layout of Apollo News is a series of dynamic boxes. A row of black background boxes along the bottom of the screen organize news into categories, while the rest of the screen real estate is lighter in color, and made up of a series of scrollable rectangles with headlines and teasers.
To read an entire article you click on the rectangle. The entire news story appears in either regular internet view as if you were reading it in a browser, or in text only quick view. From there you can share articles on Twitter, Facebook, or via email.
Apollo’s news boxes force you to have a certain number of preset categories that include top news, business, lifestyle, entertainment, sports, funny, news videos, and favorites. In the favorites box you can add an unlimited number of news sources curated by you. This can be include blogs, news outlets and more.
The app as a whole adapts over time by tracking and responding to how and what you read on Apollo. The algorithm employed within the app takes into account factors such as time spent reading articles, the articles you give a thumbs or or thumbs down to, the sources you favorite, and the social activity of news on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
All said and done, I found that Apollo did actually seem to hone in on my interests over time, but the overall setup of the app brings to light a question I often consider when thinking about the future of news.
Apollo’s setup forces you to see certain pieces of news. Even if you despise sports for example, you must still deal with a box that contains at least one sports related feed, whether it’s all sports, basketball, baseball, football or soccer. You can bury these categories, but at some point in the app you will have to deal with categories or publications you may not necessarily like.
For some this might be the source of complaint, but in forcing us to consume something more diverse readers may learn about an important world event that they otherwise would have missed had they used a news reader that focuses narrowly on specific interests. It’s a trade off, and because everything else about Apollo works well, whether you choose this app or another more personalized newsreader is a decision for each individual.
Bottom Line: Apollo News is a well designed and easy to use newspaper app for the iPad that improves over time and offers comprehensive news but still falls short on its claim to the future of personalized reading.