October 25, 2014

First Look at Handmark's Express News

Yesterday, I was lucky enough to grab a copy of Handmark’s beta release of Express News.  After playing with it over the evening and early today, I wanted to share my thoughts and give you guys a glimpse at what’s coming.

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The first reaction I had to the app was that it responds very quickly to gestures.  Whether it’s swiping left to right within articles or pulling down the menu from at the top, it reacts nicely.  You can swipe between articles as well as categories, so you can jump from sports to entertainment without having to go back to the main menu.

As far as categories go, you can choose from topics like Front Page, Business, Entertainment, Politcal, Regional, and Sport.  Users are also given the option to choose by source.  Among the sources, you’ll find AFP, AP, Canadian Press, uClick, and others.

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Articles seem to update pretty regularly, but it is possible to manually refresh them.  There’s an option to pick the number of articles, but right now the only choices are 3, 5, or 10.  I’d like to see at least 20 listed there as 10 just seemed too short.

All of the articles seemed to be bite sized, each around 3-4 quick paragraphs.  Depending on your preferences, you can change text size, rearrange category preference, and choose how often old articles are cleared out.

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One of the only drawbacks I have encountered so far is the inability to click links within articles.  Early on, I came across an article that had a YouTube link in it, but I couldn’t open it up, nor could I even copy the URL for pasting in the browser.

I don’t know how far along Handmark is with this app but so far I like what they’ve cooked up.  Aside from some subtle changes and enhancements, I think it’s ready for release.

EDITOR NOTE: Nothing in the email I was provided referred to any embargoes or makes any mention of not being able to preview this application.  I’ve since reached out to the contact I received the app from for further clarification.