Yahoo launches News Digest iOS app, new Food and Tech website hubs for normals

Yahoo News Digest 1.0 for iOS (iPhone screenshot 001)Yahoo News Digest 1.0 for iOS (iPhone screenshot 002)

Today at its CES 2014 keynote in Las Vegas, the Internet giant Yahoo announced new Tech and Food hubs and introduced a new iOS application, News Digest. The free iPhone and iPad download utilizes a technology from Yahoo’s March 2013 acquisition of mobile news startup Summly that distills information down to small gists.

The company has since rolled out Summly to some of its existing iOS apps, but this is the first time Yahoo’s iPhone app tapped the summarization tech to the full extent to “get you in the know in no time”.

It’s quite ingenious – all of the hallmarks of great iOS 7 design are present: it’s clean, elegant, self explanatory and updates you cleverly on the biggest news stories twice a day, once in the morning at 8am and once in the evening at 6pm EST.

Does the world need another news app? Existing App Store offerings more often than not overwhelm with information you may not necessarily care about. If all you need are key headlines of the day and quick gists presented in a finite and visual manner, then by all means give News Digest a whirl, you won’t regret it…

As pictured top of post, your summarized top stories include only key information that you really need to know in order to stay on top of what’s happening.

Yahoo News Digest 1.0 for iOS (iPhone screenshot 003)Yahoo News Digest 1.0 for iOS (iPhone screenshot 004)Yahoo News Digest 1.0 for iOS (iPhone screenshot 005)

Summly technology analyzes multiple sources to create what’s known as “atoms,” essentially the most important bits and pieces of information. Atoms can be anything from key quotes, images and videos to stock tickers, maps, infographs and Wikipedia excerpts, among others.

“These atomic units provide a unique context to the news,” says Yahoo. “Our stories are both algorithmically and hand curated to ensure high quality, and come with a textual summary”.

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“Atoms” (left) and how they form summaries (middle, right).

The app reminds you of the next digest via iOS Notification Center alerts, but don’t worry – it won’t inundate you with notifications. Yahoo is following the ‘less is more’ logic and rightfully assumes that folks who go to work every day barely have time to catch up on the latest headlines.

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News digests get delivered twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening.

This simplification is quite novel in news reporting, at least compared to the vast majority of news apps found on the App Store that seem to want to cram every possible news source and tidbit under the Sun. More often than not, such an approach results in cluttered interfaces that make news consumption anything but effortless.

The app’s simplicity extends to the settings interface, or shall I say the lack of it?

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Settings (left) and the nicely done wheel interface for you read items (right).

I’m what you’d call a heavy news junkie so not Yahoo’s target audience.

Still, it should be telling to anyone that this author immediately fell in love with News Digest and will be definitely incorporating it into my daily news workflow.

In my humble opinion, Yahoo’s new app is one of the best – if not the best – ways to catch up on top daily stories, in just a few quick minutes. Time is one resource that’s not in abundant supply and people shouldn’t be wasting their lives managing news sources and finding their way through vicious news cycle.

In most instances, simplicity wins.

In other Yahoo news, the company is expanding on its own reporting. Original content has always been the mainstay of Yahoo’s content strategy so today the firm launched a new digital magazine, Yahoo Food, and unveiled Yahoo Tech.

Yahoo Food (web screenshot 001)Yahoo Food (web screenshot 002)
The new hubs: Yahoo Food (left) and Yahoo Tech (right).

Headed by former New York Times technology columnist David Pogue, the new hub for tech news is designed to appeal to normals who may not be familiar with the Klingon  tech jargon used on sites like iDownloadBlog, The Verge, TechCrunch and others.

“There are plenty of technology sites for self-described geeks and corporate techies, but so far, the web leaves normal folks in the technological dark,” the company’s blog post notes. “Yahoo Tech is for people who want machines that work well, feel right, and don’t cost too much — but who don’t care about version numbers, chip names, and bus speeds”.

And finally, the all-new Yahoo Advertising was announced, bringing a unified approach to digital advertising across Yahoo’s premium and audience-focused display, native and search advertising.

Go ahead, grab the free News Digest app from the App Store now.

The download comes in at eleven megabytes and iOS 7 is required.

So, how do you like Yahoo’s content strategy thus far?