Until now, most iPhone-owning news junkies have has to rely on various websites to keep up to date with the latest news. But all that's changed with the launch of Apple's App Store – at least for US users - because there are already more than a dozen free news-reading applications available for the iPhone and iPod touch.

Of that baker's-dozen-plus assortment, one of the more useful selections is the Associated Press' free Mobile News Network. After a quick installation, a click on the brown fedora hat icon launches the program. Mobile News Network then displays a selection of top headlines, along with (in some cases) a photo. Along the bottom of the screen, buttons provide quick access to local, sports, and showbiz news.

The Local feature allows US users to track local news for a number of locations – they can enter a US ZIP code, and the program will convert it into a town name. A button labelled More shows you additional categories and provides access to settings, a search engine, and saved articles.

Some categories, such as Local, Sports, and World, have a navigation bar to jump to sub-categories (such as Football in Sports). There are also two large buttons labelled Today in Photos and Today in Video on some category pages; click those to view interesting photos and videos from the day's news.

To read an article, just tap its headline. While reading an article, you can also send it to a friend via SMS or email, save it for later reading, or (most interestingly) send in a report to update the article complete with an image. While we were able to save articles, whenever we tried to access those saved articles, Mobile News would crash back to the home screen.

We've found that Mobile News Network works reasonably well, but there are some stability issues. In addition to the crash on reading a saved article (which a co-worker also experienced when testing the app), the program would sometimes crash back to the iPhone's home screen for no reason at all.

Mobile News Network for iPhone & iPod touch: Specs

  • Compatible with any iPhone, iPhone 3G or iPod touch running the iPhone 2.0 software update.
  • Compatible with any iPhone, iPhone 3G or iPod touch running the iPhone 2.0 software update.

OUR VERDICT

Despite these occasional setbacks, we've found Mobile News Network to be a good way to keep up on the day's news.

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