Google Currents Quick Impressions
[Edit: Sorry, I'm an idiot - fixing title]
I was pretty excited when I saw the announcement for Google Currents. Finally a Flipboard alternative for the Android platform and a competitor for iOS devices. I downloaded it immediately and gave it a quick spin on my iPhone4 (iOS 5.0.1).
First impressions: The interface is very nice - clean and polished. It looks better than most android apps I've seen. Animations are smooth and content is very nicely laid out. Unfortunately, the polish seems to end there.
The first issue I noticed was that the app seems to constantly be synching. While feeds are syncing you cannot read them at all (at least not the ones I subscribed to like The Verge or Engadget) - this is pretty annoying. I'm on a very fast WiFi network so that shouldn't be the problem. Hopefully that's something they can clean up.
Next issue: Reading headlines. Yes, reading "trending" content is annoying. Selecting a headline brings you to a hub with more related headlines (including the one you selected). Okay... selecting the same headline again brings you to yet another list of articles - I think this time from the publication source. Hmm. Selecting the headline a third time finally gets you the article content. Super annoying - in fact a deal breaker for me given that FlipBoard exists for all iOS devices and a selecting an article once actually gets you to the article content. You also have to select " back" three times to return to the original list. I'm not sure if there's some publisher requirement here but it's incredibly annoying.
Adding RSS feeds: Figuring out how to add your own feeds isn't the most obvious experience but it's not that bad either. I can forgive that. Searching for feeds is very straight-forward once you get there. Every blog I searched for came up immediately and I added each to my reading list. Returning to the main screen, I did not see these feeds in my library. Hmm... Thinking maybe I did something wrong, I repeated the add procedure. Still nothing. Close the app, force kill it, and restart. Viola! Definitely a serious bug that will likely frustrate many users. Also, once the feeds actually showed up I had to wait another 5 minutes for them to sync before I could actually read them.
I really like the idea of having an offline reader like this. It's a very fully featured application despite it's shortcomings, though I can't say I'd recommend that anyone use it as a daily driver until Google addresses some fairly serious issus. I really want to love this app. I could see myself using this as my primary news consumption platform, but Google needs to address some serious issues that any iOS user will likely encounter in the first 2 minutes of using the software. On the heels of the Gmail app bungle I think they need some successes to restore some faith in the Google brand.