SmartNews review: Great for both online and offline news reading

SmartNews (iOS | Android) is a free news reader that allows you to browse the latest headlines in different news categories with an elegant scrolling interface. It’s also quick to load as you browse through each category, with all the latest news updating behind the scenes.

SmartNews is already popular in Japan as it finds trending news based on real-time analysis of web pages shared on social media. Now available in the US, SmartNews is a great way to view top news across different news categories based on other users like you.

A great way to browse stories

Right after launch, the app’s layout is extremely intuitive, giving you tabs at the top for each news category that you can tap or swipe left or right to switch between categories. The great thing about SmartNews is that all the stories are already loaded, so even when you commute through the tunnel or fly on a plane with no connection, you can still read all the stories from the latest update.

In each category, the stories are listed with a title and a small thumbnail, and you can scroll down to view more stories. Scrolling between categories is incredibly smooth, with page-turning animation and super-fast loading times because, as I said before, the stories are all already preloaded.

You also have the option to enter your Twitter and Facebook accounts, but all it does is add a Social tab to your categories that gives you news shared by people and organizations you follow.

Custom categories and feeds

The first tab gives you the top trending news right now, but there are also categories for entertainment, sports, lifestyle, technology, US news, world news, and many more. SmartNews calls these categories channels and you have a couple of different ways to customize them and their layout.

By scrolling down, you can reveal the app settings (a gear icon) in the top right. At the top of the settings list is Channel Settings where you can rearrange how tabs will appear on the home screen and new channels from the sites you like the most.

Under the Channel Settings there is an Add Channels section. Here you can sort the available channels by featured, popular or categorized. When you tap on one of the websites on offer, you’ll see a quick preview of what it looks like and you can tap the Add button to add a listing. When you add a channel, such as CNET, SmartNews will create the new tab on the main screen showing only the main news from CNET. Just like the other categories, your CNET channel will show titles and thumbnails, allowing you to scroll to scroll through more stories.

The other option to add a quick channel is to scroll to the last tab and tap the plus sign. You’ll find the same layout here as the Add Channels section, but it’s great when you just want to add a single channel for quick access.