There had been rumblings that something was going to replace Google Play Magazines for quite some time. Now we finally know that a whole new app redesign, Google Play Newsstand, is what was in the works and going to pick up the slack. However, more than simply replace Google Play Magazines, this brand new app also replaces Google Currents and integrates the features of both apps in a single place. But without compromising on the functionality and while offering a unified look and interface. Still, how exactly does it work, and how well does it do its job? Come with us as we try to find out!
First things first, you need to download the app. You can find it on the Play Store by clicking this link, however be aware that some users outside of the US seem to not be able to download it through the Play Store just yet. If you’re outside the US and still would like to give it a try anyway, click here to download the apk file and you can install it yourself. So, just get the app and install it, and we can begin our look around!
The first thing you’ll notice when opening the app is how Google has decided to employ the same “cards” interface inspired by Google Now in this app. Not only that, but you can also see that it behaves very much like the Play Store itself (with some touches of other Google apps by supporting swipe down to refresh, for example, and YouTube design guidelines), and even the slide-out navigation menu is the same:
Let’s begin with the “Read Now” section. This section provides you with the highlights of your news feeds and articles, and also allows you to read all of your content directly, if you so desire. Navigation is smooth and the presentation is very pretty, offering you an image related to the article, the author, when it was published, and what category does it belong to. As you scroll down, you’ll see that there are 6 default major categories: “News”, in blue; “Business”, in green; “Entertainment”, in purple, and so on. These categories can be edited by you later, and if you have created your own in Currents before, Google Play Newsstand will take care of that for you as well and import them directly:
Of course, tapping a title will take you to the full version of the article. The content is filtered and removed of distractions so all you have is text and the corresponding images, kind of like what happens in Feedly:
Tapping on the author will take you to the corresponding publication so you can see more items. Reading an article will also make it appear grayed out while in the “Read Now” section:
Also, tapping a tag on one of the “Read Now” articles also takes you to a search for related news and tags, as you can see below:
And that’s about it for “Read Now”. The next section is “My News”, which is where you can organize your subscriptions and categories. All the publications you’re subscribed to will appear in here, and so will your main categories. Scrolling down, you can see a “Add More”, which will allow you to add extra publications and subscriptions, or simply subscribe to a single category that automatically fetches and gathers items of interest for you, like “Art” or “Photography”:
Tapping the three-dot menu on a publication will allow you to see some extra options, including options to remove it from the list, keep it on top, share it with another app and to keep the articles of the publication cached on the device:
Tapping any of the publications will also take you to a publication specific view, allowing you to navigate through individual articles, sort by video content and even choose between categories. I’m not sure how this works, I suppose it varies from publication to publication and requires individual support, but it seems brilliant:
The image at the top also scrolls, pans around and changes automatically based on the content, and it’s a very pleasing animation and a nice touch to an already very impressive app. Of course, it’s hard to convey into text, so you’ll need to see it for yourself! Moving on, we have the last two categories: “Bookmarks” and Explore”. These are pretty self explanatory: “Bookmarks” will aggregate all the articles you have bookmarked by pressing the corresponding icon while in the article view, and “Explore” will allow you to find new publications and articles based around their category, much like the “Add More” option we discussed above:
In terms of Settings, the app is pretty bare. Still, considering most of the action takes place on the app itself, it’s not surprising:
So, that’s a quick look at what Google’s Newsstand app is all about! After Currents failed to catch on, and considering how much Magazines always seemed out of place in the OS compared to everything else, I see this as a really nice addition. The functionality is there, the app behaves and looks great, and there’s no lack of content. Pretty cool. What did you think of this new update? Let us know in the comment section below!