A wave of apps serve news on the go

Last updated 12:23 03/12/2012

Relevant offers

Digital Living

Google wants to know when users, tempted by an online advert, go to the shops Leaked: hundreds of internal Facebook documents on sex, violence, and terrorism Businessman's ransom nightmare at the hands of cyber hackers Instagram is the worst social network for young people's mental health Google's focus on AI means it will get even deeper into our lives Computer course helping 'digitally disadvantaged' saves ailing mother's family Online retail giants force NZ businesses to implement digital strategies Cyberattack hits at least 200,000 victims in 150 countries British researcher Marcus Hutchins finds kill switch, 'accidentally' stops malware crippling computers worldwide New Zealand upping digital security after 'massive' worldwide cyberattack

Silicon Valley may believe that mobile devices represent the future of information technology, but they've yet to come up with a slick and comprehensive way to read and process news.

A growing group of technology entrepreneurs hopes to change that.

This week, Wavii, a start-up founded by a former Microsoft employee, Adrian Aoun, unveiled a free iPhone app that filters news stories from around the world, crunches them through a natural language processing algorithm and presents them in five- or six-word summaries.

Over the past two years in Seattle, Aoun's team of two dozen machine-learning experts secretly developed code that boils down a news story into a basic subject-verb-object format, and draws connections between disparate news stories.

"Our edge has always been the technology," Aoun said.

Wavii has been online for several months, and Aoun has noticed that readers spend nine times longer browsing news headlines in his rudimentary prototype smartphone app than on his desktop website.

Wavii's app lets a user slice and dice a search into something as specific as "employment change in the technology sector," Aoun said.

Aoun's app pits his company against the likes of Summly, a mobile news reader headed by Nick D'Aloisio, a 17-year-old who is being backed by Li Ka-Shing, the Hong Kong billionaire; Yoko Ono, the widow of Beatle John Lennon; and a host of more traditional Silicon Valley investors.

"I use a lot of news aggregators, I use Facebook, I use Twitter" to find news articles, D'Aloisio told Reuters last month, when he launched Summly. Still, the actual article "is hard to consume. It took effort to read."

Summly, also free, features a gauzy, design-rich interface in the iPhone version of the app that summarises stories with several-paragraph-long blurbs that fit on one iPhone screen.

Hailed in the UK as a "boy genius," D'Aloisio has been featured in Forbes Magazine and on the BBC and moves almost as quickly as he speaks, trotting around the world with a pair of orange headphones around his neck. He came up with the idea for the app when he felt he didn't have time to consume long-form news articles while on the move.

"The way it's shown on the phone, it's daunting," he said. "It's 10 pages I have to flip through. Who's actually sitting there on their iPhone really wanting to read an in-depth 1500-word article?"

Ad Feedback

Other app-makers have left alone news copy but have tinkered with how stories are laid out. One example is Flipboard, a tablet app that spreads stories like a magazine across a tablet screen.

Aoun said the market for mobile news reader apps has grown more competitive in recent years, but few of them have truly caught on with consumers.

"We're getting close to figuring out the formula," he said.

- Reuters

Special offers

Featured Promotions

Sponsored Content