Apple announced a news app at its World Wide Developers Conference earlier this month. The app is already controversial because Apple will hand-pick content sources, at least initially, and because the app will just come with every iPhone and iPad.
In addition to choosing news sources, Apple editors will choose stories to be included. They'll also make it possible in the future for news organizations to build story formats exclusively for the app.
Details are still sketchy, and the app was not included in the developer build distributed at the show.
Pulse launched as a hot news aggregation startup five years ago. It specialized in using algorithms to filter and select stories.
Pulse was acquired by Linkedin two years ago. The new Pulse app, which launched last week, is nothing like the original.
For starters, of course, the new Pulse is human curated, with many of the stories written by staff who work in Linkedin's newish editorial department and others pulled from major publishers.
The real magic of Pulse is that it smartly zeroes in on your business connections. For example, if a colleague is mentioned in an article, or wrote one, Pulse will notify you so you can read it. The app also uses your Linkedin contacts to know what industry you're in, so it can deliver professionally relevant news.
One of my favorite Pulse features is transparency. They not only choose stories for you, but tell you why they did. Stories are labeled with "Editor's pick" or "Trending in the insurance industry" and other headers. Best of all, they give you some control to tweak these selection criteria.
Why these apps are different
It's impossible to know which or if any of these apps will take over as the main way people get news. But what's clear is that combining global sourcing with human editing is the secret sauce that will transform the news consumption experience.
Until now, Silicon Valley has focused on using software to replace human editors.
Finally, the industry has realized that human editors are an irreplaceable aspect of news publishing.
By combining the old editorial process with the new world of global and eclectic news sourcing, news apps have cracked the code at last.
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