Who doesn’t like slideshows? Do you yawn when you hear News and RSS feed in the same sentence? Lately app developers have been surprising users with innovative news apps that don’t suck. Now the developers at Blancspot Media have upped the ante even higher by releasing Blancspot for the iPhone. Blancspot is a news viewing app for the iPhone and iPod touch dubbed “the art of news”. The app downloads and plays a photo slideshow of top news from around the globe using images found in those stories, matching background music, and smooth transitions. The final result is something extraordinary. This is an effective method for delivering news in a pleasant and non-geeky manner.
If RSS was a silent black and white film, then Blancspot would be a Hollywood Blockbuster. As soon as you open the app, the slideshow starts with the background music as the photos smoothly float around the screen. A small black bar on the bottom of the photo reads the title of the news article, along with how long ago it was published, and the category it belongs to. You can watch without ever interacting, or if you prefer you can swipe the screen to load the next story. When Blancspot finishes one category it automatically loads the next one, and the background music changes with it. And on that note, the music in the app is very smooth, enjoyable and fitting. If you love the soundtrack, the app even lets you buy the artist’s music from iTunes.
Tap the read button and the music is lowered a notch, the photo is turned into black and white, and the full text of the article is brought over the darkened photo with white text. Read the editorial by swiping up and down. You can load related websites from the article in an integrated web browser for further reading. If you are curious about what the social world thinks, tap the Twitter tab to read what people are saying about that article right now. You can refresh the tweets, which are shown at around 10 at a time.
While you’re reading an article, you can hit the plus icon to save it to your My Channel section on the dashboard. When you get back to the dashboard, you’ll find your saved stories in My Channel. This section helps if you’re interested in something enough that you’d want to follow up on its Twitter updates and read it in the future.
Blankspot has a built in friend system that lets you add friends and communicate with them via sharing stories together. To add friends you have to know their Blancspot username. This doesn’t work too well, unless you somehow have this information handy. Since there are two entire rows of news dedicated to Friend’s Activity and Suggested articles, it seems like the friend feature needs rethinking. Otherwise the dashboard view has 2 “blanc” rows with only the Editorial and My Channel rows showing content. There is however integration into Facebook and Twitter, which will let you post comments and tweets from the app.
A couple of other suggestions for improvement in this app. It would be great to have an option to disable the iPhone from locking out the app. Right now, as soon as your iPhone locks out, the slideshow is cut off, which is a little annoying. As far as content is concerned, I was very disappointed that the app does not have a Technology category. Right now the categories are Headlines, Sports, Business, Politics, Culture, War Room, and The Planet.
Overall, Blancspot is a killer application. It does a great job of bringing you news headlines and making you feel comfortable as you watch more and worry less. It is perfect for when you want to just be lazy and “watch” the news on your iPhone. Given its media appeal, an iPad version of Blancspot is in the works and we are excited to see what it looks like on the big screen.
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