A few months back, I had a realization: I wasn’t paying enough attention to current events.
Sure, I work in the news business. I watch the news scroll past on Twitter all day long, and there are TVs tuned to news channels in my newsroom. Sometimes, I can hear my colleagues literally reporting the news around me.
But that news overload didn’t make me more informed, it just made me want to tune it all out. And at a time when there’s a wild new headline almost every day, this is not the time to stop paying attention.
To solve this problem, I turned to technology. I needed to make the news both unavoidable and digestible, giving me the option to skim the headlines or dive deeper. That solution presented itself in the form of a widget on my iPhone that appears when I swipe right on my home screen.
I started with Apple’s News widget, but then I switched to Google’s when it redesigned Google News in May.
After using both Apple News and Google News the course of several months, I’ve noticed the strengths and weaknesses of both – along with a clear winner:
Since my gateway into both apps has been the iPhone widget, let’s start there.
At a glance, these widgets look nearly identical, but there are a few key differences to note.
The first is the subtle design differences. Google News keeps it simple: it supplies you with just four of the top stories, and they’re not categorized. There’s a button on the bottom that says, “More Stories For You,” which is the easiest way to get into the app itself.
Apple News, on the other hand, offers you more headlines and separates them by “Top Stories,” “Trending,” and “Top Videos.” It’s not clear what the difference is between top stories and trending stories, and unlike Google News, there’s no easy way to get into the Apple News app without clicking on a story. I hated this about the app, since it meant one extra click to get inside.
But from a content standpoint, both app widgets left a little to be desired.
On Google News, the mix of stories it gave me wasn’t very broad — two entertainment stories, one celebrity news story, and one tech story. Granted, this is where my interests lie, and Google probably knows this thanks to my desktop browsing habits using Google Chrome. Still, a little diversity would have been nice.
At first glance, Apple News seemed to offer a better mix of stories from more diverse sources. Except when you look a little closer, every single headline but one contains the word “Trump.” I don’t know if that’s more on Apple’s design, or the reality of our current politics, but it was a bit much.
Once inside, the Google News app is clean, simple, and personalized.
One thing I love about using the Google News app is the personalization at the top. It doesn’t overdo it by giving me too much information — I don’t need my calendar or email here, for instance — but having my name up top and the local weather report is a nice touch (if you click on that icon, a pop-up 10-day forecast will appear).
As you scroll down, you’ll see the top five stories. Google says those stories have been organized for you and are a mix of the top headlines, local news in your area, and news from topics you’ve said you’re interested in.
On Tuesday, my top five reflected that well. It included a story about trade, breaking news that Ivanka Trump had shut down her fashion brand, a story about a new restaurant trend in New York City, a tech news story about MacBooks, and an entertainment story about something that happened on late-night TV.
Compared to Google News, the Apple News app has a much busier look and feel.
When I opened the app on Wednesday morning, there was a lot going on, design-wise.
A colorful module along the top rounded up stories relating to the 2018 elections. As I scrolled down, the top stories were arranged in tiles, which made it feel a little haphazard — it was hard to know where to look first.
All that said, the app provided a good mix of stories up top, ranging from politics news to science news to business news. On the flip side, these are the top stories as determined by the Apple News team, and they didn’t include stories from other verticals like sports or entertainment.
Google News lets you customize what type of news you want to follow.
While Apple News lets you search for channels, topics, and stories to follow, Google News does you one better.
Its customization options are more specific and diverse than Apple News. You can search for:
Topics, like the NBA or Meghan Markle
Sources, like The New York Times or Elle Magazine
Locations, like Los Angeles or Paris
I loved the location tab in particular, since I want more local news in my feeds. Not only do I want to know what’s happening where I work and where I live, but I like to stay up on the local news in my hometown of Buffalo, New York. I couldn’t do that on Apple News, but I could on Google News.
There’s one major way Apple News differs from Google News: ads.
There’s one key downside to the Apple News app: It serves ads, while Google News does not.
The ads appear in different ways. If you’re swiping through the top or trending stories, you might get a full-screen ad in between a story. Or, as you scroll down the app, there might be an ad in between the modules.
The ads don’t feel particularly invasive, and they’re often well-designed to the point that they don’t totally disrupt your user experience.
That being said, the Google News app doesn’t have any ads (or if it does, I haven’t been able to find them yet).
On the flip side, the Google News app has autoplay video.
This didn’t bother me too much — and, let’s be honest, it’s becoming the norm on most apps — but it might irritate those who aren’t fans of the feature.
Apple News also has video tiles, but you still manually press play.
Otherwise, Google News and Apple News have a lot of identical features.
Apple News and Google News share a lot of the same basic features, to the point that they work nearly identically.
Here are some of the additional features you’ll find on both apps:
Sharing stories. You can easily share stories you find in the News app to other platforms like email, messages, or social media. For iPhone users, you can even AirDrop a story you find in Apple News.
Push notifications. Both apps allow you to enable push notifications, although I typically don’t usually have this turned on.
Saving stories for later. On Google News, a story you save for later will appear under your Favorites tab. On Apple News, you’ll see it under your Saved tab.
Navigating the app. From a navigation standpoint, the apps work almost exactly the same. You can easily switch between news stories from various sites without actually leaving the News app.
Reading multiple stories on the same topic. Both apps will group stories from various news sites into one module, which is convenient for big stories or breaking news.
So, which should you choose?
In the end, Google News is the clear winner.
Apple News certainly has its strengths, and it worked well for me for a few months.
But the redesign of the Google News app has turned it into a powerful and effective tool for delivering the news.
It’s up-to-the moment while eliminating the noise of an app like Twitter. It’s customizable while still providing me with diverse news sources. And at the end of the day, it has the power of Google Search behind it.
Plus, even though I’m an iPhone user, I never felt like I was missing out or getting a less effective app than an Android user would.
So if you’re looking to stay informed without being overloaded, and you want a personalized yet balanced way to consume the news, your best bet is to go with Google News.