Do you recall when was the last time you had an honest to goodness surfing session on the internet? And by that I don’t mean hitting up all of your favourite bookmarks—no, actually venturing out into the unknown and looking up new pages. I’ll admit: it’s been a while for me… until I stumbled across StumbleUpon, that is.
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|Reviewed version||Latest version|
|2.5.1||Varies with device|
Features & Use
As the name might suggest, StumbleUpon is an app that generates websites at random, inciting users to discover new things on the web. If you like what you, well, erm, stumble upon you can keep reading or bookmark pages to read later. It’s really been broadening my internet horizon and helping me bridge moments of boredom throughout the day.
The application is set up in a minimalistic way but almost all of the main functions are located on the web interface.
The first thing to do is set up a StumbleUpon account, the reason behind this being that when using the app you will have the option to evaluate content. In doing so, your interests will be evaluated and new content will be curated to compliment your fields of interest.
Clearly, a form of crowd-sourcing is at work here. This means the StumbleUpon button is placed on ordinary web pages, which helps boost up the ranking for said pages. The advantage here as that the websites generated by StumbleUpon aren’t actually completely random sites, but rather sites that have been deemed interesting and worth checking out by a number of StumbleUpon users. I’ve found this system to be a very well functioning one. Boring websites don’t seem to make it into the selection of pages that are presented to users. A potential drawback: if your own interests don’t correspond with what the majority of users deems as being interesting, because in that case things that cater to your interests won’t necessarily be displayed prominently. I tried it out by looking up medical terms; the result was that the sites that would’ve been of interest to me were skipped. What to do in such cases? There is an option for looking for sites related to very specific topics. I looked up a certain neurologic disorder and ‘stumbled’ across some Harvard studies that I found to be highly interesting.
As to the application’s features: the main page is set up in a good, clear style and harbours only a few options and functions: the StumbleUpon button, the option to ‘explore an interest’, favourite interests and the different stumble modes.
StumbleUpon harbours its own social network. There is an option to follow other users whose interests correspond with yours.
Once you’ve started stumbling you can share your findings with others if you so wish (via email, Facebook, etc.), you can evaluate pages, use Read It to bookmark them or check out what kind of score a page has received.
While all of the above is great, there’s room for improvement where some of the features are concerned. For instance, you can review your history, but you can’t sort it by field of interest or date. A bigger bone of contention: we used several devices to test this application for you and on some of them (Desire, Gio) it wasn’t possible to access the options; this had nothing to do with the root system. The app’s performance on the 3G was by no means stellar, either. Everything ran smoothly on the Sensation and S2, on the other hand.
Finally, I don’t get why StumbleUpon has to remain activated permanently. It could have something to do with incoming messages. This aspect has received a lot of criticism in the Market comments.
I would recommend StumbleUpon to all users that enjoy browsing, reading and discovering new things. It’s the kind of application I personally love and it has helped me bridge many a dull hour.
Screen & Controls
StumbleUpon has a great design: it’s not too simplistic yet still easy and intuitive to use. On the downside, swiping is not as fluid as one might hope: there’s quite a bit of lagging and hence the option is not as much fun to use as hitting the ‘Stumble’ button.
Speed & Stability
I adressed the fact that StumbleUpon’s option menu crashes on some devices, and force close occurred on several devices throughout our test runs, so even though the crashing is the only negative aspect to the app’s speed and stability we won’t award more than three stars in this category.
StumbleUpon is available for free from the Android Market. Ad banners are integrated in the form of content, and the content often compliments the user’s own fields of interest.