The best ways to follow breaking news on your phone
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The news cycle doesn’t sleep. And with stories constantly developing, one of the best ways to keep up is with your smartphone. Here’s how to follow the latest happenings with the apps already installed on your device, plus some third-party extras. By tweaking the settings, you can make sure you never miss a breaking news alert.
For Android: Google News
Whether your phone is powered by Google’s Android or Apple’s iOS software, it will have built-in tools for keeping you up to date on current affairs. You can also customize these apps to make sure you’re seeing the stories that matter most to you.
Android phones, depending on the make and model, may come with Google pre-installed. If your handset doesn’t, you can download the Android version of the app for free (of course, you can also get a free Google app for iOS). The app takes what the search engine knows about you—from past searches to your location—and uses that information to serve up story snippets and breaking news that it thinks will interest you.
On stock Android phones, such as the Nexus and Pixel handsets, you can swipe right from the home screen to get to the Google feed of stories. Otherwise, just run the Google app to see your feed. As you scroll, you can customize your experience by noting the stories you don’t care about: Swipe right on articles to dismiss them, or tap the three dots to tell the app you’re not interested in a particular topic. You can also take control over what you see, from celebrities to sports teams, in the app’s settings: Hit the menu button on the top left and then pick Customize.
To control notifications, open the menu again, and this time, select Settings. Next, tap Notifications, then Your feed. From here, you can choose what kinds of breaking news stories will generate an alert, or turn those notifications off altogether.
For iOS: Apple News
Over on iOS, the operating system’s baked-in news app is Apple News, which launched in 2015 and has updated several times since. More improvements are on the way in iOS 11—so that’s the version we’ll be covering here.
First things first: Launch the app from the home screen to see stories of interest. To create a more personalized news feed, tap the Following link at the bottom, then tap Browse Channels and Topics to pick out your favorite news sources and categories. You can also find this information by using the search box up at the top of the screen.
In the most recent version of the app, Siri will make “smart” suggestions about topics you might like. You can approve these by tapping the heart icon, or reject them by hitting the crossed-out heart icon.
Like the Google version, Apple News lets you customize your alerts. Head to the Following tab, and then hit Manage Notifications at the bottom of the screen. Here, you can give (or deny) notification permission to specific news channels, allowing them to ping you with breaking news updates.
Apple News also offers a widget, which you can add to the Today View screen. To find and configure it, swipe right from the home screen or the lock screen.
Both Google and Apple know the importance of timely, well-curated news, and you can expect to see these apps add new features and options in the future. Even if you don’t install any other news app, they should ensure you don’t miss out on any major breaking news. But if you want to really ensure you stay on top of the news, then read on.
For everyone: Third-party news apps
As well as the Google and Apple News options, lots of additional third-party apps offer to keep your finger on the pulse of what’s happening around the world. The Android and iOS stores are too app-packed for us to cover all your choices here. So we picked out a few favorite news apps that we keep coming back to.
Twitter (free for Android and iOS) may not have as many users as its social-network rival Facebook, but it’s better at covering breaking news. You can follow news sources, check out trending stories, and configure push alerts straight to your phone.
Adjust these settings by going to the Notifications tab and then tapping the cog icon. To see alerts when a major story is breaking, toggle the News switch within this menu to On. To see what’s trending globally and in your area at the moment, open up the Search tab. Within this tab, you can also search for stories by keyword or hashtag (typing “#breaking” is a good way to get started). For news alerts that have been picked out by a combination of Twitter algorithms and Twitter staff, scroll to the Moments section.
Flipboard (free for Android and iOS) can’t match Twitter’s ability to break news alerts. But it’s more useful for keeping up with a range of sources that match your particular interests. Tell the app about the topics you want to stay updated about, and it will create a gorgeous-looking personalized digital magazine for you. Plus, when it pulls articles from the web, they appear without all of the usual advertising and extra material attached.
To improve Flipboard’s recommendation algorithms further, hit the heart icon next to stories you love. You can also save articles you want to read later, and pin topics and sources of particular interest to the app’s front screen, where you can quickly access them. You can even share your curated news magazine, as well as individual stories, with your friends.
Nuzzle (free for Android and iOS) is one of the best apps we’ve seen for pushing out breaking news alerts before anyone else. It taps into your social networks to curate stories being shared by your friends and to recognize when a particular story is gathering momentum. Although it uses Twitter and Facebook information, you don’t need to sign into these apps to use Nuzzle. On top of that, it also lets you pick out specific topics you want to receive updates about.
Like Flipboard, Nuzzle helps you share with others: You can use the app to curate and distribute your own email newsletter. Nuzzle also has a subscription option ($9.99 a month or $99.99 a year), which lets you cut out the ads and access bonus features like keyword filtering. Oh, and it has an online portal too, if you want to catch up on the news when your smartphone isn’t nearby.
Some sites and news sources even have their own dedicated apps. Checking them out is also a good idea, as they’ll probably feature push alerts and other features you can use to keep on top of the news deluge. Whether they do or not, the apps we’ve listed above should give you a good foundation for being the most informed person in the room.