A few weeks ago I deleted Twitter from my phone and tablet. This was a long time coming, and the reasons I chose to do it are obvious, so I’m not here to write an essay on why I did it. Instead, I’m here to offer some tips if, like me, you used to rely on Twitter to stay up to date with news and events and want to stop using Twitter for that.
I used many of the tools here before deleting Twitter, but they’ve become more useful and prominent in my screen time calculations without Twitter around. (And no, deleting Twitter hasn’t reduced my screen time, unfortunately.) Some may be obvious and some may be new to you, but here’s what I do to keep up to date with both general news and topics I I’m specifically interested in.
Apple News app: For breaking news and long magazine articles
Apple’s News app has been around for years on the iPhone, iPad, and Mac, but it hasn’t really gained much appreciation for how good it is for those of us who read a lot of long articles. It’s far from perfect, and yes, even if you pay $9.99/month (or get it bundled with an Apple One subscription) for a News Plus subscription, there are still ads in articles (although I’m not sure know how this is different from buying a magazine from a newsstand? I digress), and you must have an Apple device to access it.
Still, every time I open it, Apple News brings me top headlines from events around the world, plus curated selections based on my reading history and topics I’ve selected. It also offers push notifications from publications I follow and integrates sports scores and reports from teams I care about.
But the best thing about Apple News is that it gives me access to longform articles from The Atlantic, The New Yorker, New York Magazine, and many others for a flat fee through my News Plus subscription. There’s no other service I’ve been able to find that offers me so much longform content for such a relatively low price. I used to rely on my Twitter feed to clutter my Pocket queue with stuff to read later, but Apple News now gives me a lot of that.
Google News app: For local news and shorter blogs
Along with Apple News, Google News provides a curated list of news articles based on my interests every time I open it. Compared to Apple’s offerings, Google News relies more on shorter pieces and is better at providing local updates, whether that’s upcoming weather, local politics, or restaurant events. It’s available on both iOS and Android and is free, so it’s easy to pick up and use.
Google News isn’t perfect — it relies too much on Google’s website AMP format and doesn’t properly remember my logins on paywalled sites — but it’s also provided a wealth of options for my read-later queue now Twitter away is.
Google offers a similar feed of articles in its Discover product, available on the left side of your home screen on Android phones and in the Google app on an iPhone. But Discover is kind of crappy and in my experience gives terrible recommendations more often than good ones, so I generally just go straight to Google News.
An RSS reader: For curated headlines from websites you care about
Believe it or not, RSS is still around and still works great for keeping up to date with updates from various websites. I’ve used an RSS reader longer than I’ve used Twitter, and it’s still one of the first apps I open every morning to keep up with what’s happening on the sites I care about.
Setting up an RSS reader takes more work than using something like Apple News or Google News, but the reward is that you specifically enter the sources yourself, so you have a lot more control. I use Feedly for sync (the free version, I’ve never been required to pay for it) which I connect to the Reeder app on iOS/Mac and FocusReader on Android. It’s set up with dozens of sources from mostly tech news sites, but also some smaller blogs that I’ve been following for years and don’t update often.
techmeme: for the latest news and discussions specific to the tech industry
Look, if you are reading this article The edge, you probably care a little bit about what’s happening in the world of technology. techmeme has been collecting headlines and discussions of tech news for longer than I’ve been blogging, and it’s a place to get a quick overview of everything that’s happening in space every day. I just visit the site in the browser on my phone.
The edge dot com: I swear, we’re helpful
No wait, hear me out – if you don’t want to do the work of setting up those other resources and just want to scroll through a feed like you used to on Twitter, our website is very good for that. We redesigned it earlier this fall to include shorter posts with links to things we find interesting on the web, including other blogs and articles and social media posts. Our team has used it a lot and we are very excited about the plans we have to make it even better in the coming year. And of course we have lots of original reporting and extended pieces, plus videos and other stuff to read and watch instead of looking at Twitter.
Yes, I am biased. Yes, this is a shameless plug. But damn, you’re already here reading this article. You might as well click around.
The last piece of this puzzle is a good read-later app, which I use to save and store articles from all of these sources as I review them. I use Pocket, but Matter, Instagram, and others are great options. The Reeder app on iOS and Mac even has its own read-later feature, just like Safari and other browsers.
Overall, this process of using multiple sources is more work than just doom scrolling through a Twitter feed at any idle time. But the rewards are worth it: you get full stories instead of questionable snippets, and you don’t have to deal with the noise inherent in Twitter. And when you’re done checking the news and catching up on your read-later queue, you can start touching grass.