Android: Google Currents vs. Pulse

When Google Currents first came out, I was really excited. I had never read news a lot on my phone, but I thought Currents would change that. In a way, it did. I do read more news on my phone now, but I’ve abandoned Currents for Pulse. Here’s why.

1. Updating Articles

I completely understand that it takes time to update all the articles from all the sources that I’ve added to Currents, but why does Currents update on its own? I know that Android kills off background tasks to save memory, but I wouldn’t mind if Currents kept a small task that checked every 30 minutes or so for new articles. When I open currents, it doesn’t even update on its own anyway! I always need to hit the refresh button. Then I put away my phone and come back 10 minutes later to see what’s new. It’s ridiculous. Pulse at least keeps posts updated for you.

2. The Interface

Sure Currents’ interface is clean and simple (I would actually prefer a little more color), but I feel like it’s missing some key features, like an option for updating articles in the background. And I don’t always find the interface intuitive. Swiping side-to-side in even the same view yields different results. And then there’s the back button. Sometimes when I hit the back button on my phone, Currents shows all the stories from the current source, but other times it takes you right back to the main screen. It’s infuriating! Then there’s the lag. On a dual-core phone, an app like this should not hang. But every time I load an article, the whole app freezes for a few seconds. A few times the app just crashed. It looks like the developers may have rushed a few parts of the code to meet a deadline. That doesn’t mean that Pulse’s interface is flawless. I didn’t figure out until after I added all my sources that I should have made each page themed. A tip to do this would go a long way toward helping new users. And for some reason I don’t get images inline with my articles. All I get to see is the preview image in the article list.

3. Sources

Yes, I know that Currents is newer than Pulse so it won’t have as many sources at first, but the difference is astonishing. Not only does Pulse have many more featured sources, but they’re better organized, making it easier to discover new sources. With Currents, I just feel lost trying to discover new sources or add one via search. With Pulse, I browsed through their categories and found all my typical news sources, and many more!

4. Why?

Why, Google, did you feel the need to make Currents? Just because Apple made Flipboard? I’m no Apple Fanboy (far from it, in fact), but I just don’t see the need for Currents. Now that I’ve discovered Pulse, I’m almost embarrassed by Google’s new app.

Granted, this was my experience with Currents on a phone. Supposedly the tablet interface is much better, so when I do get a tablet, I’ll try it out. For now, I’m uninstalling.

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