If you’re anything like me anytime you’re around kids with your phone out, you get asked the same question, “Do you have any games on your phone?” My answer has consistently been no, and more recently, a more prevalent no. Instead, it’s filled with another category, News.
As a journalist and someone who likes to think they’re an active member of the global community, staying up to date is not so much a habit, but more of a requirement. The biggest section on my iOS 14 App library is “Information and Reading” with a total of 87 apps, just for news. While there are many apps from outlets themselves such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, and others, I do take consideration in using curated news apps.
To me, curated news apps are great for finding new conversations to join and discovering new perspectives that you perhaps didn’t think of before. But at their core, curated news apps are meant to bring thousands of publishers to one single app. My main preference is Google News, largely driven by Google’s long-standing investment in AI, and machine learning means that it is truly personalized for me.
However, it isn’t mean for everyone. The majority of mainstream people aren’t news junkies like myself, they want to stay informed quickly, without the clutter and glamour, and move about their day. To those non-news junkie people, there may be an app for you.
Ruby, developed by Peroxaan Studios is a water-downed news app with a simple design and certain tuning options that some users may find helpful. Ruby has a simple user interface that gets rid of the complications often seen in other news apps.
The layout itself is simple, the News tab gives you headlines in a simple list view, with the publisher and date/time stamp right below, and tapping a headline takes you straight to the main article. The app also offers you different filters allowing you to specifically dive into a certain topic such as Technology or Sports.
There is a search tab that allows you to search for a specific keyword in its database of headlines. A bookmarks tab allows you to save an article for future reading or reference, and a Settings tab which alongside offering you basic options, allows you to change region and app icon. On the iPad thanks to its larger display the sidebar has quick access to those same filters available on the iPhone such as Politics, Sports, or Entertainment.
While the app is simple to use with an elegant design, it’s also confusing in terms of purpose. On one end the app seems to want to be a one-stop-shop for the latest headlines. That however comes into question when there are certain features, or more or less, messaging lacking. For example, it remains unclear at which interval the News tab refreshes. Swiping down on the tab does not refresh the headlines, keeping the experience feeling dry. In my experience with the app the latest headline I saw was from 3 hours ago, and with no clear way to refresh, I’m left feeling either secluded or questioning if the world has stopped working.
Additionally, the default headline of the News tab reads “Highlights,” giving me the impression that I’m not viewing the latest headlines, but instead whats popular or trending. Possibly renaming it to “The Latest” or “All Sections” will go a long way in establishing the purpose of the app. All of that being said, I personally struggled to find a place for Ruby to fit into my arsenal of apps. But that won’t be the case for anyone.
For non-news junkie people, I’d recommend looking into getting Ruby. I would switch that recommendation to an all-out purchase if Ruby adopted simple changes. The biggest one being improved messaging for when the News tab itself refreshes. I understand that creating curated apps such as these where data points from multiple websites and sources are gathered to a single place can get expensive to run. I’m not saying that Ruby become this instant feed of second by second headlines, but knowing when or how often the feed refreshes allows me, and users to better understand where Ruby can be used.
In its current state, Ruby gets a 6/10 on the Apple Terminal scoreboard. It’s a great app for someone who finds it fun or interesting to read through the news headlines, not with the purpose of staying up to date, but simply as pleasure. For someone who is considered a news-junkie like myself, Ruby currently is simply not meant for them.
You can purchase Ruby for $1.99 on the App Store here.