The rather literally-named Free 6 in 1 News Clock Radio Set (hereafter News Clock Radio) is a new iOS app from Nstarsoft. It’s available now as a free download from the App Store, and is currently highlighted in the New section of the App Store’s Productivity category.
News Clock Radio, as its name implies, has a number of components to its complete experience. Its primary function is as a large-display clock for iOS devices, displaying the current time and date atop one of several selectable backdrops. If the user’s device is connected to the Internet, a feed of news headlines, stock quotes and weather reports will continually scroll past, though these do not appear to be in any particular order and are non-interactive — there’s no means of tapping on them to read the full story or weather report, for example.
Tapping a menu button in the upper-left corner of the screen allows the user to customize their experience by adjusting the volume and brightness of their device, changing the color of the “digital” display, selecting the background image and setting an alarm. The alarm, which has snooze and repeat functions as well as a selection of sounds to choose from, is set using the iOS default “checklist” system rather than the more commonly-used rolling selectors, and this means the interface is a bit clumsy. This issue is exacerbated somewhat by the fact that the volume and brightness sliders are fixed in place on screen rather than in the menu, which means that they get in the way of other menu options as well as making the menu itself look a bit amateurish.
From the menu, the user may also activate either background sounds for the app or listen to one of several Internet radio stations, though streaming from these was rather unreliable at the time of writing. The selection of available stations is rather limited in the free version (and very mainland Europe-centric) but the selection may be expanded considerably by reviewing the app on the App Store. As usual, users don’t need to actually post a review — they may simply switch back to News Clock Radio as soon as the App Store has appeared and receive full “credit” for their non-existent review.
The app’s options menu provides users with a link to download its “Pro” incarnation for $0.99. The Pro version includes more radio stations, background sounds and is ad-free. It is a separate download rather than an in-app purchase.
News Clock Radio is a nice idea that theoretically allows its users a convenient “at a glance” view of the day ahead of them, but unfortunately its execution is not everything it could be. The fact it’s not possible to customize the news feeds, focus weather reports on specific areas or track specific stock quotes makes the “news” part of the app not especially useful, particularly since it’s also not possible to tap through and view further information on a story, weather report or stock quote. The interface is clumsy and makes some very obvious mistakes that should have been caught during testing — the volume and brightness sliders staying static on screen while the rest of the menu scrolls being the most glaring fault. Ads flicker when scrolling through menu screens, too, leaving the whole app looking rather hastily-thrown together. And the whole app takes up nearly 80MB of storage space, which is far too much for such a simple app.
With a bit of work, this could be great; as it stands, however, it needs some serious attention before it can be recommended. You can follow its progress through the App Store charts with AppData, our tracking service for mobile and social apps and developers.