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Finger on the button: app recommendations to stay in the loop

ByChristopher Lightfoot

Mar 23, 2016

Information overload. My attention span is being eaten alive by BuzzFeed quizzes, while Snapchats have faded from my memory much quicker than they are wiped from the servers.
Technology culture has begun to admit it has a problem. Now, software designers are beginning to consider how devices can help users stay in the loop in a more discreet, calming manner. The Student Science & Technology editors have put together a shortlist of applications that are at the forefront of this new design trend. In a nutshell, these apps will help to keep you in the know – without letting your phone take over your life.
Let’s just accept it: this form of telling news – a physical newspaper with words printed in ink – probably isn’t going to be around for much longer. Yet, as news and content moves online, a great opportunity presents itself to reimagine how news is delivered and consumed.
Describing itself as “a digitally native news outlet for the new global economy”, Quartz (qz.com) is a media organisation that is experimenting with the new ways of content distribution that modern technology enables. Simply named Quartz on the iOS App Store, this app imagines how the news delivery experience would work as a stream of messages. The design looks just like the texting app, allowing you to respond to messages to read more or less of a particular story. Personally, I find it makes staying in the loop a lot more fun and accessible. See also: NYT Now. This might finally be the moment that podcasts break into the mainstream. A new wave of audio programming has found the medium’s suitability to high-production, story-driven narratives that inform (The Awl, Monocle Magazine’s The Briefing) and entertain (Mystery Show, Benjamen Walker’s Theory of Everything) without any effort from the listener.
But one of the biggest stumbling blocks podcasts face is that the iPhone’s built-in Podcasts application for downloading and playing podcasts simply is not very good. Instead, I would heavily suggest using the free Overcast app by Marco Arment. It delivers the fundamentals of a podcast player faultlessly, but includes features such as a sleep timer, volume equalisation and a mode that skips through dead air in rougher, more talk-based podcasts.


Image: Gilles Lambert

By Christopher Lightfoot

English Literature & German student. Writes about: technology, science, urbanism & design. Blogs at: unfolding.website

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