The new features in the News360 iPad app includes a 'local' category
News360, a social newsreader app, has launched "an entirely re-imagined edition" for iPad.
The app allows users to sync Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Google Reader and Evernote accounts and choose a selection of categories to follow.
Journalists can use the app to follow their niche, plus major world stories, while for publishers it offers another platform for readers to discover content from their titles.
"You can call it social discovery or algorithmic curation, but we’re calling it 'staying informed'," the California-based company said in a release.
The new version, which has been nearly a year in the making, promises to "save you time by combing through the web and analysing more than 200,000 articles every day, paying attention to factors like language, tone, quality of writing, freshness, sharing activity and a whole lot more, to match you with the stories and writers you’ll like the most – even if you don’t yet know they exist."
"We don’t just organise your Facebook and Twitter feeds in a pretty frame, nor do we serve you articles just because your friends or followers liked them. We analyse your actions within the social graph to understand your personality, and make predictions about the types of content you'd enjoy."
Journalism.co.uk met up with Roman Karachinsky, chief executive of News360, during a recent trip to London.
He explained how the algorithm has been gradually learning the time of day and the day of the week users like to read particular types of content.
"It is surprising how many trends you can discover," Karachinsky said. "It can be obvious, like viewing long stories on a commute, or less obvious.
"Eventually we want to look at ambient noise. For example, the noise of a restaurant. We certainly don't want to to get creepy and we are completely transparent."
As with other social readers such as Zite, News360 gets better with age. "Your News360 learns more about you as you use it, improving feeds as you read, share and like articles," the release explains.
It also saves stories to read offline and works with Instapaper and Pocket (formerly Read It Later).
Notably, News360 includes a Flipboard category, giving a potential competitor in the social reader app field its own category.
One of the new features is a "local" category, which promises news from your area. A search for "Brighton" returns London-centric sources (see above) but Karachinsky said that will be developed over time. Until now 70 per cent of users have been in the US but ambitions for the UK and beyond may see a shift in use.
Another new feature is a star system, indicating to readers how informed they are by how much they have read. For example, two stars tells the reader they are "informed about their interests" and three indicates they are "reaching outside of their interests", Karachinsky told us.
He also explained how beta tests had showed users spent longer using the "re-imagined' app. "Before the average session length was 10 minutes, with the new app engagement times are 20 to 30 minutes."
So what opportunities are there for publishers beyond readers' discovering and consuming news stories?We hope to be like an eBay for content where you are the seller and we are the marketplaceRoman Karachinsky
"Eventually we want to partner with content providers," Karachinsky told Journalism.co.uk. "We hope to be like an eBay for content where you are the seller and we are the marketplace."
News360, which launched the previous version of its app in August 2011, is also focusing on international editions, for example for the UK, Australia and India, and eventually plans to release editions in other languages.
In addition to the iPad app launching this week, there is also an iPhone and Android version of the previous release and developers are working on a Windows 8 version for autumn release, Karachinsky told us.
The News360 concept was originally developed by Karachinsky and colleagues in his native Russia, where he raised venture capital with a $1.5 million grant from Skolkovo, a Russian government Silicon Valley-style programme and the company later moved to the US.
Here is a link to a list of new features and the app.
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