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 about why I did. Instead, I’m here to provide some tips if you, like me, used to rely on Twitter for staying on top of news and events and don’t want to use Twitter to do so anymore.
I used a lot of the tools here before I deleted Twitter, but they’ve become more useful and prominent in my screen time calculations without Twitter around. (And no, deleting Twitter did not reduce my screen time, sadly.) Some of them may be obvious and some of them may be new to you, but here’s what I’m doing to keep up with both general news and topics I’m interested in specifically.
Apple News app: for some breaking news and longform magazine articles
Apple’s News app has been around for years on the iPhone, iPad, and Mac but hasn’t really gotten much credit for how good it is for those of us who consume a lot of longform articles. It’s far from perfect, and yes, even if you pay $9.99 / month (or get it bundled with an Apple One plan) for a News Plus subscription, there are still ads in articles (though, I’m not sure how this is different from buying a magazine off of a newsstand? I digress), and you have to have an Apple device to access it.
Still, Apple News provides me with top headlines of events around the world every time I open it plus curated selections based on my reading history and topics I’ve selected. It also provides push notifications from publications I follow and integrates sports scores and reporting from teams I care about.
But the best part of Apple News is that it provides 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 provides so much longform content to me for such a relatively low price. I used to rely on my Twitter feed to stuff my Pocket queue full of things to read later, but Apple News provides much of that for me now.
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 offering, Google News leans more on shorter pieces and is better at providing me with local updates, whether that’s upcoming weather, local politics, or restaurant happenings. It’s available on both iOS and Android and is free, so it’s an easy one to pick up and start using.
Google News isn’t perfect — it relies on Google’s AMP format of website too much and doesn’t do a great job of remembering my logins to paywalled sites — but it, too, has provided a wealth of options for my read-later queue now that Twitter is gone.
Google provides a similar feed of articles in its Discover product, which is available just to the left of your homescreen on Android phones and in the Google app on an iPhone. But Discover kind of sucks and provides terrible recommendations more often than good ones in my experience, so I generally just go right 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 on top of updates from various websites. I’ve used an RSS reader for longer than I used Twitter, and it’s still one of the first apps I open every morning to get a bead on 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 are specifically inputting the sources yourself, so you have a lot more control. I use Feedly for syncing (the free version, I’ve never been compelled to pay for it) that I plug into the Reeder app on iOS / Mac and FocusReader on Android. It’s set up with dozens of sources of mostly tech news sites but also some smaller blogs I’ve been following for years that update infrequently.
Techmeme: for breaking news and discussion specifically in the tech industry
Look, if you’re reading this article on The Verge, you probably care somewhat about what’s happening in the world of tech. Techmeme has been aggregating headlines and discussion of technology news for longer than I’ve been blogging, and it’s a go-to place to get a quick overview of everything that’s happened in the space each day. I just visit the site in the browser on my phone.
The Verge dot com: I swear, we’re useful
No wait, hear me out — if you don’t want to go through the work of setting up those other sources and just want to scroll through a feed like you used to do on Twitter, our website is quite good for that. We redesigned it earlier this fall to incorporate shorter posts with links to things we find interesting from across the internet, including other blogs and articles and social media posts. Our team has been using it a ton, and we’re really excited for plans we have to make it even better in the coming year. And of course, we have lots of original reporting and longform pieces, plus video and other stuff to read and watch instead of looking at Twitter.
Yes, I’m biased. Yes, this is a shameless plug. But hell, 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 store and save articles from all of these sources while I’m checking them. I use Pocket, but Matter, Instapaper, and others are fine options. The Reeder app on iOS and Mac even has its own read-later function, as do Safari and other browsers.
Overall, this process of using multiple sources is more work than just doomscrolling through a Twitter feed every idle moment. But the rewards are worth it — you are getting complete stories instead of questionably sourced snippets, and you don’t have to deal with the noise that’s inherent in Twitter. And when you’re done checking the news and catching up with your read-later queue, you can go touch grass.