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Google Currents

Google Currents logoWhen reading content that is published electronically, there are two central problems. The first is how to creating an interface with which people actually want to read. The second is gathering and organizing all the content that people want to read. At ProfHacker, we’ve covered a number of apps and devices that try to solve those problems: Flipboard for bringing together into a magazine format articles from your Twitter and Facebook accounts; the Kindle and Kindle Fire for reading e-books; Kindle Cloud Reader and books in browsers for reading online; Google e-books, and of course Google Reader and its alternatives.

Last week Google offered another option for reading. Google Currents is an application for Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android, so it is available for devices like the iPod Touch, iPhone, and iPad, as well as Android-powered smart phones and tablets. You can get Currents at the App Store and the [Android Marketplace][adroidmarketplace].

The application lets you add content that you might want to read from a variety of sources. Google offers a list of featured content that is predictable: Forbes, CNET, ReadWriteWeb, and the like. Google has some other subject-specific lists of content too. The real strength of the app, as far as I am concerned, is the ability to add any RSS feed including those in your Google Reader account. I have Currents set up to read blogs which are published frequently (like ProfHacker).

Once you have picked your content sources, Currents pulls them together into a magazine format (not unlike Flipboard). You select the source you want to read, and then you can flip through the articles, which are broken up into pages like an e-book. In my opinion, at least, the formatting in Currents is attractive and readable.

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Currents is not without its flaws. The header on the opening pagE is inexplicably huge, which uses up valuable screen real estate. It doesn’t actually sync with Google Reader, so reading items in Currents won’t mark them as read in Reader. And the app seems to be slow at times, though PCWorld has a suggestion for setting the sync settings correctly that can help.

Despite those flaws, I like Currents so far. I find myself reading more content from blogs like Religion in American History, which otherwise get lost in the sea of unread items in Google Reader.

Have you tried Google Currents? What did you think?

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