How Does Yahoo's Livestand for iPad Stack Up?
Yahoo today (Nov. 2) released Livestand, a free magazinelike news app that gathers your favorite Web-based sites into an attractive, easy-to-use interface.
Yahoo describes Livestand as a “digital newsstand that’s always fresh and effortlessly personalized.” This app is similar to Apple’s own Newsstand app, which also touts its ability to bring digital publications together in one interface. Where Livestand differs is that Apple’s Newsstand is largely built around paid subscriptions, while Yahoo’s contains free content from its own site and that of its partners. In that way, Livestand is more similar to apps such as Flipboard and Pulse.
[Full disclosure: TechmediaNetwork, parent company of this publication, is among the publishers featured in Livestand.]
Start up Livestand and you’ll see four “New User” pictures, allowing multiple users to access their account on a single iPad. You can sign in with a Yahoo or Facebook ID or bypass the login and just start using the app. If you create a login, you can also assign a photo to your account. Allowing multiple accounts is a great idea, since each person using the app will have different interests, and the app can be configured to show what you want to see.
Once logged in, you’ll see “My Library,” which is divided into two sections. The top contains “publications” you’ve subscribed to, as well as Yahoo! Today and Personal Mix. Yahoo Today contains top stories in five categories, as well as 12 featured content pages. Personal Mix highlights stories based on bookmarked content that you’ve chosen within the Livestand app. The bottom contains featured content, and the option to “Explore All Content.”
The best place to start is probably the “Explore All Content” option, where you can choose from 13 categories and scroll through free publications in each. These publications are collections of current articles from the listed site, much like a magazine form of the website. When you see one you like, tap the plus symbol to add it to your Library. Once you’ve selected your publications, use the left arrow in the navigation bar on the left edge of the screen to return home, or tap the Library button.
This app is about reading interesting content, so with your library now full of the publications you added, swipe left or right to move between them, and tap one you’d like to explore. A screen opens where the top contains a number of featured stories you can swipe left and right through, and the bottom contains links to categories you can browse through. Open any story and you can swipe up and down to move through it. The stories contain pictures, as well as ads, so the magazine analogy holds well.
Generally, we liked Yahoo Livestand. The interface is clean and easy to use, the graphics are appealing, and having multiple user accounts is something the iPad is sorely missing. The features are limited, which makes the app easy to use but doesn’t provide many opportunities for customization. The current list of publications included many that we enjoy, but the selection could benefit from more diversity. Ads are natural for a free app of this type, and there are ads here and there. We didn’t mind the static ads, but occasionally ads that included animation or video appeared and distracted from the reading.