This is CNN (for Android)

A few months ago, CNN, one of the largest news outlets, released their highly visual Android application. Paralleling the design of the iOS application and even the Android tablet version, CNN offers a highly visual news experience which includes video and audio options as well.

User Interface

Headlines View of the CNN app

The CNN app shines in its focus on making news visual. Top stories are represented by large images that can be swiped though by topic as other stories can be accessed by scrolled down. Navigation is also handled by a scrolling bar at the top of the page, an easy way to jump from topic to topic. There are a few advertisements woven between headlines but they remain visual as well — if anything CNN may have made the application too visual!

Story Structure

Story View

Story View

Reading stories in the application is great, a large image and quick bullet summary rest atop the article for a quick glance before proceeding to the text. One noticeable difference from other news applications is that CNN displays white text on a black background; while remaining easy to read it also ties the aesthetics of the application (primarily made of black and slate) together. Stories may contain an advertisement similar to the front page but this has yet to become intrusive in my reading experience.

One additional navigation aspects is a series of dots at the bottom of the page representing the user’s location, as they can swipe left to right to access new stories.

Sharing With CNN

One aspect that I personally dislike is how CNN handles sharing articles. Rather than present the normal Android sharing options, CNN initially only offers a few selections including Facebook, Twitter, Email, All Sharing Options (more on that shortly) and Save for Later (also addressed shortly).

Now, I do like that CNN shortened the list of applications to share with to the bare essentials, but by selecting Facebook or Twitter prompts the user to “connect” CNN to each service rather than use the standard “Share” system the applications operate with. To use the standard Share features the user must first select All Sharing Options and then the application.

CNN Profile

CNN Profile

CNN Profile

In hopes of delivering more personalized news, CNN Profile gives local news and weather, based on your geo-location. A more interesting aspect the Profile provides is a tab dedicated to Saved stories, added by the previously mentioned Save for Later sharing feature.

In an attempt to keep users within the CNN experience (not to mention their advertising!), CNN encourages the user to save a few stories and then read through them like a personal news queue. Although I personally prefer Read It Later, Save for Later is a nice alternative for saving CNN stories.

Multimedia Experience

One of CNN’s strong suits is the wealth of information it transfers through multimedia. The Android application gives the user access to video clips within news articles, live video streams and even CNN radio clips for audio stories and quick updates. The radio has several selections ranging from stories to interviews and even podcasts that users can add to a playlist in the applications audio player. Video has similar options; the live feed is only offered when available to users but remains a nice feature.

iReport

Submitting content for iReport

Submitting content for iReport

The crowd sourcing utility, iReport, also makes an appearence in the application, allowing users to upload images and videos. Once a file is uploaded the user is prompted to sign in with a CNN account or submit as a guest where they will then categorize the content and provide a title and description. Including the ability to create news on the mobile platform is very interesting and I am looking forward to what comes from iReport in the coming months.

Widget and Notifications

CNN Desktop Widget

CNN Desktop Widget

The CNN application also contains a widget (4×1) that scrolls through a selected feed of news. The widget is small, clean and polished, a nice addition to a home screen. Under settings a user can also set up notifications for urgent news. If you want to stay at the forefront of what is happening around the globe this feature is sure to please.

In Conclusion

The release of CNN on Android brings a polished product from a heavy hitter in the news industry. Fully featured and polished, it remains one of the top news applications we have seen on the platform yet. That being said, issues with sharing stories and sometimes sluggish response are currently holding the application back from achieving mobile news greatness.


Summary

News juggernaut CNN has released a highly visual Android application to keep you up to date on local and breaking news.

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