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4 news apps that will change everything

Mike Elgan | June 23, 2015
I'm a huge fan of newspapers. I've been subscribing to the print edition of The New York Times since I was in college.

Here are the four new apps that we learned about in the past three weeks:

BuzzFeed News

BuzzFeed last week launched an iOS news app called BuzzFeed News. (The Android version is expected in the fall.) The app offers major stories, with content brought in from news organizations, including BuzzFeed itself.

At the top of the main app page, you see three bullet points, telling you the three most important current stories, which you can share to social media as a graphic.

Below the top stories list are other stories presented in order of relevance, interest or importance, starting with a headline and summary. If you tap on the headline, you're taken to a selected news story online. Some go to BuzzFeed stories (they seem to favor their own), and others to articles on The New York Times, The Guardian and other major publications. Following the related stories section is a summary with a bullet-point list under a "What We Know" heading listing of established facts.

Below that, selected snippets of quotes, tweets, Vines and GIFs are presented in reverse-chronological order. BuzzFeed plans to add Instagram photos, YouTube videos and SoundCloud audio content later.

All this is put together by editors who are finding and summarizing the best stories while tracking and providing background and supporting material.

Twitter Project Lightning

Speaking of BuzzFeed, the site got a scoop last week on Twitter's secret "Project Lightning" -- a curated mobile app event "experience." The concept is to take whatever people are talking about (on Twitter, natch) and offer a richer, more qualitatively filtered way to participate in that conversation. ("Project Lightning" will appear as the central button in the mobile app on all platforms, according to the story, but we don't know when.)

Breaking news events are likely to be major categories in Project Lightning, but so will event television (the Oscars, the Super Bowl, etc.).

The idea sounds promising. Twitter is a great place for event conversations and also breaking news. But the straight-up Twitter stream is either way too much or way too little. During big breaking news events, you get flooded with nearly identical tweets while missing high-quality tweets posted by people you're not following.

Lightning will have a team gathering together the best quality tweets and shoving them into the app, so you get only the best content, which includes tweets and anything deliverable by tweets -- photos, videos and more.

In addition to engaging with the app, you can "follow" a curated event, so updates to that event show up in your regular Twitter stream, even on the browser version.

Twitter has always been a great source of news for the biggest stories. But "Project Lightning" may turn the mobile app into a great alternative news source because now they've added the power of human editing and curation.


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