When Yahoo announced earlier this year that it was turning wunderkind’s Nick D’Aloisio algorithm-aided news app, Summly, into News Digest, we were disappointed to learn it was iOS-only and not available outside of the US.
Today, that’s all changed. In fact, this particular update seems to most affect Canadian Android users, so it’s incumbent on all of us to download it and read every scrap of news provided to us. News Digest has expanded to Android devices running Ice Cream Sandwich or higher, and has added a Canadian Digest to boot. According to D’Aloisio, Yahoo’s strong existing presence in Canada was the reason the company made the country its third specialty rollout location.
But what is Yahoo News Digest? It’s a twice-daily summary of the news in eight articles. With a slick, gesture-friendly interface, users get notifications at 8am and 6pm, no more, no less. Some of the information is machine-generated, but there is an editorial element to it and, of course, the topics themselves are human-curated. “We initially aimed at 100% automation,” said D’Aloisio in a phone interview, “but that didn’t always produce high-quality content.” Now, he says, they have an editorial team that selects the stories from a number of existing publications like AFP and Reuters, and slightly tweaks what the machines produce.
With the success of the iPhone version, D’Aloisio wanted to make sure that Android users were accounted for. News Digest, he claims, was continued to be used daily by 40% of those who downloaded it, a number practically unheard of in the mobile space.
“Android gives you different benefits,” he says, such as the intents system and relative openness of the platform. “iOS still makes it easier to create smooth animations, and the design is slightly better,” but he says he spent a lot of time making sure the experience on Android was at close to its iOS counterpart as possible. The Android version also has a homescreen widget that displays the most recent digest in a flippable card format.