By Jim Karpen on Mon, 02/18/2013
Think of Winston for iPhone as Flipboard with a voice. In fact, the interface somewhat resembles the extremely popular news aggregator app, but instead of presenting text on the screen, Winston speaks the news. Winston is free, and like other aggregator apps, you can customize it according to your interests, as well as connect it to your Facebook and Twitter accounts.
Winston speaks the headlines, giving a short summary for each. If you want to read more, a tap will bring up the full news story. The computer-generated voice has a pleasant British-butler-type accent that's easy to listen to. The app offers nearly 40 channels in the categories of headline news, world news, technology, sports, business, politics, entertainment, fashion, cuisine, gaming, and travel. Many popular news services and websites are represented. If you enable location services, Winston also will speak weather forecasts, local news, and public announcements.
You can select a channel in order to listen to news from a particular source. Or if you tap the Briefing panel, the app will give you a summary of the news from all your channels, as well as current time and weather.
Background music plays as Winston speaks the news headlines and summaries, but I quickly found it annoying and was glad to learn this default setting can be turned off. If you want to get through the news more quickly, you also can enable a setting in which Winston speaks in a faster than normal speed. I was satisfied with the default setting of normal. You also can enable a setting to download the full newscasts so that they're available offline.
As Winston speaks the news, the screen shows a photo from the news story and gives the source of the original report. It also tells how many hours earlier the news story was first posted.
"With Winston, we wanted to create a new way for people to interact with their personal web," said Aaron Ting, CEO and co-founder of Reactor Labs, in a press release. "So much of our day is spent leaning forward to read a tiny screen. We wanted people to lean back and listen. We wanted to start a new conversation between people and technology, one that empowers and inspires them to stay informed about the world around them."
The app is ideal for commuters who want to keep up with the news as well as their Twitter and Facebook feeds while driving. I've always like aggregator apps, and Winston gives you a new and novel option.