Not too long ago I had attempted (with a surprising lack of success) to test one of the latest shining stars of the iTunes App Store, Winston. The concept behind the app is a fantastic one: choose the news and social media sources you’re interested in, and Winston reads your updates to you in a refined-sounding synthetic British voice. The enticement of eyes-free information was a strong one; while my morning and evening drive isn’t as long as it once was I still have some downtime that I’d like to fill with something a bit more topical than my favorite podcasts.
Thankfully my perseverance with Winston has been rewarded. I was able to circumvent the issue I was having with the app’s installation routine by limiting the number of default categories chosen. Rather than five I limited my selection to two (headlines and technology), apparently allowing the app to complete its preliminary setup.
Now (like the Death Star) fully operational, Winston has demonstrated that it is well deserving of the praise it has garnered. The app gathers new information quickly over LTE or wifi, and offers a tiled photo image of categories for you to choose from (as well as the logos of Facebook and Twitter). By default Winston only dictates a summary of news stories with an accompanying background musical score. The voice simulation falls short of what I’ve heard via Siri and other apps; the speech can be somewhat clipped at times and mispronounces names (even considering the British accent). That admitted, it does a fluid job of reading your selections for you, and can easily be configured to cover entire articles instead of summaries. Should you prefer complete stories (as I do) but not wish to hear the entire article Winston is on, just swipe the screen to change to the next article. Additional sources of information can be added after the initial setup, so limiting your sources doesn’t impact the long term usefulness of Winston.
The app had a surprisingly broad range of sources to choose from, and adding new feeds was very easy. After my initial issues the app has been rock stable and very easy to use. Coupled with my car’s Bluetooth streaming it’s been enjoyable to have my own Winston-dictated customized news and updates radio station every morning. If you’re a news addict or a social media junkie, if you’d like to stay informed without having to commit your entire attention to your device Winston offers the perfect way to sate your appetites. Best of all, Winston is completely free via the iTunes App Store.