Every morning as my dogs rush past me to the yard for their morning romp, I sit on my deck with a cup of hot coffee and start my day.Â This routine has long included my G1 to check email, Twitter, Facebook and the like as I slowly wake listening to the distant jingle of dog tags frantically moving about the yard.Â This is followed by a trip to the driveway to retrieve my daily newspaper.Â However, for the past few months, my morning news source has been replaced by a great Handmark Application; Express News.Â Finding news on the internet whether at a computer or on a handheld device is neither difficult nor is it new but Handmarkâ€™s application takes it to a new level of ease.
Express News offers over 300 news channels and eight possible languages with a broad range of topics.Â You can browse the available news channels via a collapsible menu.Â The topics and sub topics are very intuitive and make it easy to find what you are interested in; including esoteric channels like figure skating statistics and Dear Abby.Â The personalized list of news channels you compile will be what is updated and presented to you when you launch the application.Â These can be rearranged, added to or reduced at any time through the Manage Favorites menu selection.
In addition to the standard application, it also includes a 1×4 desktop widget.Â The widget displays the latest headline and photo (if available) for a chosen channel.Â Multiple instances of the widget can be used to display different channels if so desired.Â The channelâ€™s headlines can be toggled with arrows on either side, although this is a bit unresponsive at times, and the application can be launched by touching anywhere else.
The overall UI is very simple, elegant and responsive.Â You can scroll through a news story using the touch screen or the trackball.Â You can swipe left or right on the screen to toggle through different stories within a channel or through channels when on a main page, both also offer a simple dot navigation guide on top.Â There is a pull down menu with a list of your channels to jump to as well.Â Various settings and options pop up with the menu button, but the more unique one is an option to download all stories, all from a certain channel or a single story, making it possible to read them later when a signal will be unavailable, such as on a plane.Â Within a story, you can also opt to share it; this will prompt you to choose either via SMS text or email.
My overall impression of the application is very positive.Â It offers a great list of channels to choose from without being overly daunting and has a slick UI that is easy to pick up from the start.Â Being able to customize my feeds allows me to quickly check headlines and stay on top of what I choose without having to wade through numerous articles to get to the one I am interested in.Â The widget is nice and updates fairly frequently, about hourly.Â The drawbacks I have found are a lack of local news options; it offers â€˜regionalâ€™ news but these are extremely broad such as by country or continent.Â Unfortunately, the share option forwards the story text (via email) or just the headline (via SMS) and a link to Handmarkâ€™s website; I would prefer an option to be able to send the storyâ€™s URL or even just an option to share via Facebook or Twitter.
Express News is available for free in the Android Market or via Handmark’s website.Â Handmarkâ€™s website also offers a number of other Android applications available for download, some free but most paid.Â Thus far Express News is the only Handmark Application available on the Android Market.