Hands on with the Washington Post’s new Android app

Washington, D.C.’s largest and oldest daily newspaper, the Washington Post, launched an Android application on Monday.(s wpo) The free software complements a version for Apple iOS (s aapl) devices that debuted last year and is sponsored by Toyota (s tm) dealers in the D.C. metro area. I took the new software — found in the Android Market — for a spin on a Google Nexus One (s goog) this morning, and although I don’t read the Post on a regular basis, I find the application well done.

The various newspaper sections exist in a sliding bar atop the content, allowing for fast navigation. Tapping and holding on any section title brings a pop-up menu of relevant topics in that section. Holding Sports, for example, brings up Most Read, Redskins/NFL, Capitals/NHL and other contextual options. Once within a section, you can swipe left or right between stories.

A breaking news ticker can be turned on or off as desired, and the font size is fully adjustable. I particularly like the dedicated Photos section, which shows off full galleries and photo essays that essentially tell a news story solely through high-quality images and short captions.

The application offers a number of ways to save or share content as well. Tapping the Start at the top right of any story saves it to your favorites. Using the share button in the menu will give a handful of ways to shoot the content outside the application. Similar to most Android software, the application will show all available sharing options such as via Bluetooth, Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or any other relevant methods that are on the phone.

In addition to the national politics and opinion pieces the Post is known for, users in the D.C. area will also appreciate the detailed local weather forecast, radar maps and alerts. Additionally, a dedicated Travel section provides a real-time interactive traffic map, complete with one-touch access to dozens of traffic cameras. Here you’ll find arrival times and delays for Washington, D.C.’s public transportation system.

All in all, if I lived in the local area or spent more time reading the Post, I’d happily keep the application on my phone. The software is intuitive, informative and full of valuable content that doesn’t cost a dime.