Summing Up
Apps use algorithms to distill content into key points
Tech / 22 Feb 2013
Despite the trend toward longer-form online content, readers continue to consume much of their breaking news in bite-sized bits. At the same time, recent research suggests that most people still gravitate towards traditional news sources. As a consequence, a wave of new apps aims to appeal to both preferences, using algorithms to summarize articles—and, in turn, is taking news aggregation to the next level of efficiency.
: High school sophomore Tanay Tandon developed the summary app Clipped for the academic purpose of condensing the many in-depth materials he regularly reviews for his school’s debate team. But he soon saw its potential for an even broader range of content. Using a patent-pending algorithm to determine main ideas based on sentence structure, the app pulls key points from news and other non-fiction documents and webpages. Summaries are presented in a bulleted list, making for incredibly digestible reading and allowing users to consume more information in less time. The app is currently available for iOS and Android, and also as a Chrome plug-in.
: Info aggregation app Wavii has a higher goal than most of its competitors, which CEO Adrian Aoun describes as steadily building “a knowledge base of everything that exists.” Like most other aggregators, Wavii provides a feed of subjects and news items, using Facebook Connect to determine relevant content for the reader at hand. But the app distinguishes itself from similar offerings by boiling down articles to a single summarizing sentence, using machine learning to determine each article’s essential point. As is now standard in the aggregation landscape, an integrated social element allows users to instantly like and share their favorite condensed content.
: News-condensing app Summly, the 2011 creation of then-15-year-old Nick D’Aloisio, recently released a redesign featuring stronger summarizing powers. In its updated form, the app relies on gesture-based functionality so that news summaries are the sole focus on the screen. Users still choose the news categories they’d like to follow, but the update promises clearer, more accurate article synopses, thanks to enhanced algorithms and natural language processing. The redesign is rumored to have caught the attention of Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer, whose recent string of mobile acquisitions suggests the Internet giant may be exploring the hip, relevant mobile experience Summly provides.
©The Intelligence Group