Build your own personal newspaper with Thirst

Thirst is a new iOS app from the company of the same name. It’s available now as a free download from the App Store, and is currently featured in the New and Noteworthy section of the App Store front page.

Thirst is the latest in the increasingly-long line of apps that attempt to bring together articles and social posts from across the Web and aggregate them together into a more easily readable and digestible format. In many senses, these apps and services are attempting to gradually replace RSS readers, which many Internet users have used until now to keep up with their favorite websites from a single centralized location. The new services offer the benefit of automatic content selection based on online social popularity, but this improved ease of use often comes at the expense of having complete control over what news comes your way.

Like most similar services, Thirst allows the user to sign in using either Facebook or Twitter, but does not require either of these services to use. If the user signs in using an existing social media account, they are able to automatically follow any of their friends who are also using Thirst. Thirst uses its own proprietary account system, so users are also able to find new people to follow using the service itself.

Thirst is split into a number of main sections. The “Newspaper” section features a personalized feed of topics based on things that the user has followed — either individual topics or specific users. The “Discuss” section shows a selection of featured articles that have been attracting a lot of interactions. The “Interactions” tab shows notifications for when the user has had contact with others. The “Explore” section allows users to browse through topics and subtopics, then follow the latter to add to their “Newspaper.” And finally, a “Search” function allows users to seek out specific users and topics to follow.

When looking at a page of information about a topic, several tabs are available. The “News” tab shows a list of articles relating to the topic in question, and relevant media files (usually video) underneath. The “Discuss” tab shows which articles have received the most Likes and comments on Thirst. The “Chatter” tab shows posts from social media relating to the topic in question. And the “Info” tab searches Wikipedia for information on the topic in question.

Tapping through to an individual article allows the user to view it within Thirst’s interface. “Like” and “Dislike” buttons appear at the bottom of the screen, along with a button to comment (and optionally share on Facebook/Twitter). A “settings” button also allows the user to mail a link to the original article, copy its URL or block it from appearing on Thirst if it contains content that they do not wish to see. At any point while reading an article, the user may tab over to its “Discuss” page, which allows easy viewing of Likes, Dislikes and comments posted on Thirst relating to the article. Unfortunately, Likes and Dislikes are treated in the same manner as comments, so popular articles can quickly become flooded and discussion hard to follow; it would have been better if Likes were collected together into a single “story,” much like they are on Facebook and other social services.

Thirst is a well-designed app that performs its functions well. It’s questionable as to whether it really needs its own social network for users to comment, Like and Dislike content, but it at least connects to Facebook and Twitter for easy sharing on more well-established services. The service seems to cover a wide variety of content, is fully searchable as well as browsable, and is quite flexible. On the whole, it seems to be quite a good service for those looking for a new way to consume their news. As noted above, this type of app typically sacrifices customizability in favor or ease of use, and that’s certainly the case here — but for those who don’t want to spend hours curating their RSS feeds, this is certainly a good solution.

You can follow Thirst’s progress with AppData, our tracking service for mobile and social apps and developers.