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Chumby Android app puts Internet favorites in one spot

by Caitlin M. Foyt

It took some time not only to figure out exactly what purpose Chumby serves, but also to get it set up. But, once I cleared those hurdles, I found Chumby to be a very fun little app.

Chumby is an app that's designed to be a one-stop shop for all of your favorite parts of the Internet — the photo blogs you frequent on a regular basis, the weather, interactive Flash games, your Facebook profile — and creates these customizable channels made up of your content.

Designed to be more mobile friendly, this app presents only little pieces of what would normally be available on a website. It's just the photos on your favorite blog or just your Facebook news feed. It's meant to be laid out as convenient, little slices of life. (That being said, if you like the standard, unabridged versions of your favorite sites, this app might not be for you.) Flipping through the "Android Featured" channel, using the arrows on the menu screen, I went from looking at a Reuters news feed to photos from the People of WalMart blog, to a game of checkers, to flipping through a gallery of trailers on Trailer Addict.

To get started, you must first make an account. I found registration was very confusing because you must simultaneously activate it on your phone and on your computer, and the instructions aren't clear. Once I figured out exactly which screen I needed to get to to activate and load, I was fine, but there was a bit of assembly required beforehand. If you were to ask me to do it all again, I'm still not confident that I would be able to whiz through.

After you're registered, you can create and customize your own channels online. If you're a big fan of organization, you'll be pleased to learn that this app gives you full say in what goes where, giving you tons of customization options.

Once I got the hang of how it all worked, I started having a lot of fun with it. I was suddenly looking at all of the websites I like to have on the go, and I didn't have to load a single site.

One issue I had with this app, however, is that it doesn't always make use of the phone's landscape screen mode. It tends to vary, depending upon which web app you're in. Also, it appears that the original idea behind Chumby was that it was not necessarily intended to be, well, an app.

Chumby is a pretty clever twist on the traditional e-reader, an exciting step away from your typical, daily web surfing, and an effective way to keep it all organized. However, unless you're feeling adventurous, $4.99 might be bit much to ask for this app.