I am a huge fan of subscribing to RSS feeds as a way to keep up with the news that is going on around our country and world. As I get older, I’m not sure if I get lazier or if I just want to be more efficient, but I find that I am starting to unsubscribe from more feeds. It kind of gets to the point where if I am not keeping up on my news on a daily basis, my news reader tends to get overloaded with stories and I never get through them all.
Then the other day, I read about this 17-year-old developer who created a news app specifically for the iPhone. My first thought that came to mind was that this was “just another” one to add to a slew of them that are on the App Store. But, what originally caught my attention was the fact that this developer was so young that I just had to see what he had churned out. In short, I was amazed at what he produced in his app named Summly.
The whole premise behind Summly is that it is a way to view your news in short summaries so you can glance at them and not feel overwhelmed by it all. What I instantly loved about the app is once you open it up, you can start using it right away if you wanted to. It comes preloaded with a variety of broad news topics that you can choose from, and best of all, they can be customized. Within a topic there are a handful of sites that contribute articles and you can select which ones you want to get news from.
Another way to manage your feed is by adding a topic of your choice. This can be a person, theme or any type of topic you can think of. For example, I could type in “Apple” and Summly would find articles for me that are specifically related to Apple. I was curious how well this feature would work, and in my testing it did okay. There were a couple of topics that I typed in that after a couple of days there were no articles, and I knew there were news stories out on the subject. I haven’t figured out how broad or how narrow your selection can be in order to get articles.
Navigating Your Way Around
This is where the cool stuff really gets started because as you use the app, you will find that everything is gesture based. For example, if I tap on the left of a topic I get a summary. If I want the full story, I just swipe down from the top and I get the full article. Swiping left and right will take me from one article to the next with each one just giving me a part of the full story.
To get back to the homepage, I just swipe up from the bottom and I get taken back — now I can go on to my next topic. If you don’t want to read the summaries for each article but would rather browse through the titles, you can do that as well by tapping on the right-hand side of a topic. Then if you find a summary that is interesting and you want to share it with your friends, you can hold down anywhere on it and you will see a cool spinning wheel effect — out pops options for you to share it to Facebook, Twitter and email. You can also star an article so that you can save it to read later.
Great For the iPhone
When I think of the iPhone and its function, I think of using it as a quick way to do a task that can be done right away or very easily. If it is something that will take long time to do, I usually leave that task to do on my iPad or laptop. The same goes for Summly. I am not going to consume all of my news articles on my iPhone, but I love that I can open up the app, go to a topic and quickly glance through the day’s news. If anything looks interesting, I can either open up the full article or I can save it for later reading. This, in my opinion, is just about the perfect news reader for the iPhone and it still amazes me that it took a 17 year old to come up with it.
Summly is very young and I am interested to see what its future holds. I would love to see a few more features added, like the ability to add a specific site to my reading list. It would also be nice to be able to save articles to other apps like Instapaper or Pocket as that is where I tend to go back at the end of the day.
Overall, Summly is very well done, easy to use and a good looking app. If you are overloaded with articles in your RSS feed reader or just want a quick way to glance at the day’s news, you have to go and download this one. It is definitely one that has easily moved itself onto my iPhone homescreen and maybe it will be on yours as well.