Yahoo News Digest Lands on iPads With Katie Couric Videos
When Yahoo announced last year it would acquire Summly, a London-based startup specializing in summarization technology headed up by 17-year-old founder Nick D’Aloisio, in a deal reportedly value at $30 million, it left many scratching their heads.
Summly as a standalone was underwhelming at best (it was removed from the App Store shortly after the acquisition), but the algorithms powering the app are really what Yahoo paid for. Those have slowly been creeping into Yahoo’s own apps in the time since.
But if there’s one app that comes close to justifying Summly’s multimillion-dollar price tag, it’s Yahoo News Digest, which rolled out for iPad on Thursday.
Like the existing iPhone app, Yahoo News Digest for iPad delivers twice daily digests, each consisting of eight to 12 stories based on the day’s biggest headlines. The iPad app will also include weekly videos from Yahoo’s global anchor Katie Couric and have the ability to customize what time the digests are delivered (the default is 8 a.m. and 6 p.m.).
But this is the only personalization feature available. Unlike other news curation platforms, Yahoo News Digest doesn’t allow users to personalize the summaries to their tastes.
“We see ourselves as the antithesis to a lot of these news apps,” said D’Aloisio, who heads up the app for Yahoo. “Philosophically, this whole product is about providing a definitive digest. We don’t allow any customization because our promise is to deliver you the most important stories whether or not you want to to read it.”
That may sound brash, but each story’s display is what makes the app unique. Rather than a single newswire article (like you might see on Yahoo News or another aggregator), Yahoo News Digest pulls in multiple articles and supplemental information for each story. The way it’s presented is broken down into what Yahoo calls “Atoms,” which are generated by algorithms and human editors.
The first Atom is a text summary of the story with snippets from each of the source articles. Displayed under the summary is a handful of other relevant contextual information like maps, Wikipedia, photos, videos, infographics and quotes. The result is a bite-sized yet surprisingly comprehensive overview of each story in an elegant stream. (The iPhone version of the app won Apple’s design award and the iPad edition is also beautifully designed.)
Now that the first tablet app is under his belt, D’Aloisio said the team’s next focus is on wearables, particularly the Apple Watch, which D’Aloisio said is a logical platform for short-form content like summaries.
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