The internet revolution has change the way we get our news and the nature of news itself. Admittedly, as we learnt from Anchorman Two: The Legend Continues, the 25 hour news cycle started before the Internet became ever present in our daily lives. However, the widespread availability of the Internet has accelerated the process, especially with print.
With constant news feeds and breaking events broadcasted almost every minute it would be possible to never stop reading and never feel as though you were “up to date”. In many ways this constant stream of data can be a blessing, but on a personal level it can simply be overwhelming and lead to being barraged by noise.
Which is where Yahoo News Digest comes in and takes a different approach. Until recently Yahoo News Digest has inly been in the US. Now it has arrived in the UK as well I thought I’d give it a go.
What I Like
The reader focused layout and design of the app is really great. When you open it you see a large relevant image with the title of the articles pre-selected for you. Inside each article you have one main image and then related images at the bottom of the page too.
The limited number of articles is a really nice touch. Sure you can continue reading other articles once you have finished your allotted number, but the preselected number makes the app feel like the papers of old with a point where you feel like you have caught up with the most important articles of the day. You may want more of a certain topic (which you can certainly search for), but it’s great for current events and topics you might not search for.
The gesture controls of the app make it a pleasure to use. It’s really easy to operate one handed and slide between articles. This makes the app great for both skimming and taking your time with each of the articles you are reading.
With each article Yahoo pulls in related web content. The recent articles on the Ukraine have pulled in map images as well as videos of key speeches, links to more in-depth articles on the situation and even a selection of references at the bottom.
There is a wide range of extra resources that Yahoo may present you with [see the image below]. You can get pictures from other news sources, a summary of a Wikipedia page about a topic and even tweets on the subject or even infographics . The app almost prepares the “next step” for you after you read the article for the questions you might still be left with.
What I Don’t Like
Although it’s nice to have articles selected for you on the biggest topics of the day, some of the articles chosen aren’t as good as others. This is not about the quality of the writing, it’s more a case that I don’t really want to read about entertainment news or certain other topics.
Following on from the last point, I can’t adapt what articles come my way based on my interests. Partially, this is related to the idea that Yahoo is selecting the “essential” articles for you but I’d like to be able to disable certain topics of articles (such as celebrity gossip) or choose to receive more on other topics.
There have been a couple of times where I’ve really wanted to share an article I’ve read but the app really hinders this process. It has built in sharing to Facebook, Twitter and email which require a few steps, but there is no simple built in options to copy to the clipboard, send to Evernote or other common sharing options. Surely, Yahoo wants to make it as easy as possible to share about their app?
Overall, Yahoo are definitely on to a winner here. The formal of limited, selected news stories sent to your device twice a day is brilliant and the design of the app is easy to read and easy to navigate. There are certainly some areas where Yahoo could improve here, in particular, an ability to customise what types of news stories you get to read and a better sharing menu. I wonder if this oversight leads for the opportunity of other developers to put out niche or more flexible news apps that will curate alternative selections of news stories.
Either way, this type of news app is a breath of fresh air from the never ending news feed and I suspect it will be on my home screen for a long time.