Chrome won’t be the only app coming pre-installed with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, although Chrome is actually meant to replace the stock Android browser, while Google Currents will be added to all the other Google apps, such as Gmail, Maps, Play Store, and so on.
Google Currents is kind of a hybrid between a RSS reader and a social reader, much like Flipboard, although Flipboard started as just a social reader, pulling articles from your friends’ streams, and only later added RSS support. Google Currents was developed as an alternative to Flipboard, because Flipboard was taking its sweet time arriving on Android. Plus, the team behind it rejected a acquisition offer from Google. It seems that the news about Google building a competing product got the Flipboard devs to port the app on Android as soon as possible, which is a good example of how competition benefits the user.
Personally, I can’t say Currents is my favorite reader out of the bunch. I’d say Google needs to overhaul the way the app is presenting the news. I don’t like its current style of showing that banner at the top with a story, allowing you to slide to the left or right, and occupying most of the screen with icons.
I like Flipboard’s interface a lot more. It seems like a more enjoyable experience for reading and discovering news stories. I also like their big widget a lot. It looks beautiful on the homescreen. Of course, there’s also Pulse News, which is one of my all-time favorite apps, which lets you see more stories at a glance, rather than just one by one, like Currents and Flipboard do it.
Still, many publications have rated Google Currents a top 10 app for Android in 2011, and now that Google is more focused on content for their tablets and smartphones, they are promising a lot more page views to magazines and other publications, with the pre-installing of Currents on Android 4.1 devices. It will take a while before most devices have Android 4.1, but it’s definitely something to take into consideration for publications that aren’t on Android yet.