UC Web, Alibaba Group’s web division, is already known for its popular UC Browser. Back in March, it also launched a news aggregation app ‘UC News’ in the country. This app is much like other news aggregation apps and is already available in the market. The company claims that it leverages big data technology to learn about user interests and shared personalized content. I tried this news app to get latest news updates on my mobile phone. And based on my personal experience, I am writing what I found in the app.
Update: I published this review when the UC News app was launched. Later the concept of the app was changed and the company added individual contributors to publish and earn using We Media Program. After this update, the UC News content quality is not as good as it was before the update. Now you have option to follow channels and get update. Recently, UC News also added micro blogging feature and also made several changes in the way it shows news content.
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UC News aggregates news by pulling news content from different news portals and displays it within the app to readers. When you first install and open the app, it asks you to select language and then your interest. The language was fine, but I was expecting it to recommend stories based on interest I selected. While I selected ‘Tech’, It was recommending me stories from all other categories. I guess, recommendation engine also considers the popularity of stories from all the categories. The company has satisfactory explanation for this. Sometimes I should also know the trending topics of categories which I didn’t select.
The App has the very clean interface. You can easily switch from one channel to other with its tabbed navigation. See the + icon at the top right corner of the app. It has over 20 featured channels, including news, cricket, technology, entertainment, movies, lifestyle and more.
You can open My channels section to remove the channels from your following list. By default, you follow most of the available categories. You can drag these categories to the set the order and this order is used to show you categories in navigation tabs. So, add the channel of your interest at the start of the list.
All stories open within the app and you can see the name of the news source. For example, if the story was from TOI, you can see its new below the title.
You also have options to share the stories with the friend.
You also have the slide out menu which lets you select night mode or disable images. Night mode is useful when you are reading stories at night. It does not put a strain on your eyes. If you hide images, it will consume less mobile data if you are not on Wi-Fi.
As of now, there are only two language options available. But I expect more language options in coming months if the app gets a good number of users for the Hindi language.
You can download UC news from the links given below. App is available for free.
Google News vs UC News
Now, there is a big question which comes in our mind. Why should one use UC News, if he/she is already using Google News? Well, I also have not very clear answer for this. Google is taking benefit of its AMP technology to load stories faster and save data on users’ mobile. Google News also have light and dark theme option. As Google knows what are you searching for the web, it has better chance to predict what stories you will find interesting. Google news also show weather data as an advantage.
UC News is same as Google News if you just talk about aggregating news and ignore the weather part. In terms of look and user experience, UC News is little better due to its cleaner look. UC News is also as fast as Google news in loading news.
One thing which I hate in Google News is its acceptance policy for publisher. I have seen many bad quality websites in Google news. These websites push too much paid content and sometimes misleading or not properly written. Unlike Google News, UC News has selected news publishers smartly. While UC News is also planning to open its gate for more publishers, I hope they will take care quality before approving more publishers.
While Google News relies on popular and trending stories based on search volume, UC News analyze trending keywords on Facebook and Twitter and decides on the trending topics before recommending.
UC News has an advantage of its integration with UC Browser. UC Browser has around 58% market share and all those users can access UC News from UC browser without downloading the app. So, UC News can easily attract more readers.
App is news, so it will be very early to comment on its success. While it has no notable thing to beat Google News, app also has no drawback. If you want to access News stories at one place, you can download UC News app.
If you are already using UC News app, don’t forget to share your experience with us.