Google has finally launched its long rumored, most awaited, news app called Google Currents. This app would directly compete with other news recommendation/personalization apps like Flipboard, Zite, and Editions. News recommendation and personalization is not a virgin market but it isn’t matured either. This is what Google Currents is trying to fill in. Google has tied up with 150 publishers, including CNET, Forbes, Huffington Post, Fast Company and many more.
Google Currents is available as a free download for iOS and Android devices. This is great because Android tablet users are waiting for a great magazine style news personalization app and Flipboard doesn’t yet have a Android version.
There is one little problem with Google Currents. It’s available for US users only.
Why just US?
Just when you thought Google has taken a holistic app launch , it has limited its usage by restricting it to one geographic location. Google for crying out loud ranks Asia as one of the biggest market for Android. And Asia is becoming the top smartphone market too. So why doesn’t Google launch it to everyone else? Does it have to do with some publisher permission?
I can see the same set of publishers being available on Flipboard across most of the geographies. I’m not sure what Google’s big problem is to roll it to the rest of the world.
Ironic as it may sound, the Google Currents app wasn’t downloaded much on the Android market. There are less than 50 installs. It doesn’t tell much but leaves a lot of speculation.
Anyways, what’s in the app?
If my tirade against Google not launching it to everybody on the planet hasn’t bored you yet, here’s what the app has in it.
- It integrates well with Google Reader. At least that’s what is being promised.
- Articles will be available for offline reading. Need to see how well is this implemented.
- Google trends : 5 top trending stories will be displayed and they will be refreshed every hour. Neat.
Offline reading is by far my biggest interest in Google Currents. Taking a tablet/phone offline is mighty difficult and none of the current apps have solved that problem very well. I circle between Zite, Flipboard and ReadITLater to get a offline browsing experience but it almost always falls short.
Offline viewing for videos is another big grouse of mine. Google Currents does promise for Video recommendations but doesn’t tell if the videos will be available for offline.
In the new age of skyrocketing data usage plans, offline viewing and WiFi free loading are a must. Whichever app tries to solve that problem first wins.
Does Google Currents solve that problem? How would I know? I don’t live in the US.
Damn you, Google.
Update : Just to pile up on Google’s flawed strategy of releasing Google Currents only in the US, take a look at the 10 Billion Android apps infographic. Top 3 app crazy nations are from Asia and US figures only at #4.