App

Circa’s smart features and slick content make it a solid news app

Price: Free
Version: 5.0.1
Size: 57.9 MB
Developer: Circa 1605, Inc.
Platform: iPhone

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Bored with Apple News? Looking for something a little more engaging? Then consider taking Circa, a video-focused news app, for a spin. Instead of offering articles for users to read through, Circa serves up interactive videos and in doing so it puts a smart spin on the news app genre.

Circa’s video interface lets users comment on the video or even AirPlay it to a nearby TV

When you first launch Cira (and sign in, either through Facebook or one of Circa’s own free accounts,) there’s the usual option of selecting categories which are of interest – from Hollywood to politics, business, fashion, and more. Then Circa presents a newsfeed-style interface full of videos to browse through. Tapping a video plays it, and in the video interface users have the option of AirPlaying that video, commenting on it, bookmarking it, or sharing it.

Circa’s main interface, where users can select news videos to view

Usefully, here users can also follow tags related to the video you’re currently viewing, and this will allow Circa to better tailor the content it serves up. Related content appears towards the bottom of the screen, alongside Previous and Next buttons for cycling through additional stories. The whole interface is well thought-out and makes browsing through video content in the app fairly effortless.

You can customize your personalized Circa experience by selecting categories you find interesting

Tabs along the bottom of Circa let users switch between their own personalized feed, an “explore” pane, and a search field. Options can also be tweaked using a final tab: here, you can edit the categories you’re following and access bookmarked content, alongside more specific account settings.

In the Explore interface, users can search out new articles by category or by tag.

Missing from the app is landscape support and optimization for the iPad, which may disappoint users who enjoy switching between their devices. To be clear: it will still run on iPad, but was designed specifically for iPhone and doesn’t look great on the bigger screen. But as a free download, this shouldn’t put you off giving Circa a shot.

So how does Circa compare with the news app you’re already using? Well, it’s probably not going to replace the likes of Apple News or Flipboard, but it provides a good alternative. Its video-only news may be a little too stimulating to absorb right before bed, but its content is good and almost comparable to a pick-and-mix version of traditional TV news shows.

The bottom line is that Circa is perfect for those times when would rather watch the news than read it.

Review: Circa - a slick video-driven news app
For
  • Great range of video-based news items
  • Customizable
  • Cool extras (AirPlay, commenting)
Against
  • Lack of iPad optimization
  • No landscape mode
4.5Overall Score