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UI Patterns of Android News Apps

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UI Patterns of Android News Apps

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"I love writing authentication and authorization code." ~ No Developer Ever. Try Okta Instead.

Modern Android applications tend to follow certain user interface patterns, primarily as described in the official Android UI Guidelines. However, not every application is designed equally. Here we see how three news applications have the overall same look, yet the significant detailed differences are immediately obvious.

BBC News application feels like the most polished. The top navigation bar looks and behaves as expected. Horizontal swipe works perfectly. The landing screen offers high-resolution photos, perfect for the new class of high-end Android smartphones. In my opinion, if someone uses many popular Android applications, BBC News application gives the least amount of surprises.


On the other hand, CNN application only adopts some of the best practices. Surprisingly it feels more like many Facebook-y applications, with the side bar which slides in and out. Tapping on its big “CNN Headlines” also does not bring you back to the landing screen. The news list shows the individual list items with this glaring dark gradient, quite hard on the eyes. There is no possible tweak to disable news update or even choose the update frequency. Last but not least, the “This is CNN” audio message when starting the application is fancy and welcoming, but it is kind of annoying (fortunately you can disable it, which you should do right away).

How about NBC News? Its application does not support horizontal swipe, there are only left and right arrows you can tap to move to the previous or next story. The landing screen is not special at all, many down arrows just add the clutter with no immediate benefit. Also, in the story list, you tend to see ad banners inserted here and there, another noisy elements. Finally, choosing the news section involves the use of this colorful rotary menu, complete with some animation and sound effect. This menu looks interesting at first, but the novelty wears off pretty quickly.

The above three applications were random samples, I picked them from the recommended ones in the Play Store. I also deliberately tested channel-specific applications and not the aggregator ones (maybe for some other time).

What is your favorite news application? How is the user interface?

"I love writing authentication and authorization code." ~ No Developer Ever. Try Okta Instead.


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