I’ve commented that news reading apps for iOS are surging, especially, it seems, as more big news brands put content behind paywalls.
As a pretty dedicated news junkie I’m delighting in all the creative apps that are scouring the web for worthwhile morsels of news, and serving it all up in a dedicated place. I’ve already praised Zite, which looks at half a million websites and delivers news that it determines you are interested in by keeping track of what you click on.
I’ve spent a couple days now using News360, from Russian developers whose specialty has been semantic analysis, fact extraction and text classification. Those are big words that describe using artificial intelligence to get you relevant material. News360 is far more focused on just news than some of the other apps, and looks at about a thousand mainstream websites and delivers stories in selected topics, while at the same time offering related stories from other trusted news sources.
The app has a very inviting user interface which just encourages you to jump in. If news doesn’t appear that you are interested in, you can create your own query and save it for future searches. The app gives you a taste of the news from these thousand or so web sites, but for more, you go directly to the source. The app will also, with a click of a button, identify key words in a story and allow you to search on any of those words. It’s a very cool feature, and works well.
News360 also has what it calls a 360 view. If you are in a topic, clicking on 360 view gets you a carousel of images, and if something catches your eye you simply click on it and the story pops up. Other features include the ability to aggregate what you are interested in from Facebook, Twitter or Tripit.
The app is location-aware, and can try to get you local news, but since the app has limited sources, unless you live in a big city, you aren’t likely to get much that is relevant. I’ve seen a couple of odd graphic glitches which I’ve passed on to the developers, and sometimes, in some categories, the app is not as up to date as I would like.
Even with those caveats, News360 is excellent, innovative, and free. Company founder Roman Karachinsky told me (via Skype from Moscow) that version 2, out in June, will learn from your news selections, and considerably widen the news sources used, from 1000 to tens of thousands.
I’m happy to see these news apps blossom, and as they advance they are making the iPad a really great device for keeping up.
News360 also comes in an iPhone version, but with the limited screen real estate on the iPhone, I don’t find it as compelling to use. News360 is getting excellent reviews from people who are trying it, and I’m going to continue to look at it as part of my daily news diet. At the same time, I’m eager to see more features and more sources included. Give it a try and report back with your impressions.