I gave up reading the news because this amazing new app just does it for me
I have basically given up reading the news.
I have apps and bookmarks for The Guardian, The Financial Times and a few others on my phone and laptop, but using them is laborious and time-consuming. I have to check each one individually in order to feel fully informed.
So I have largely stopped using them in favour of a little-known news-reading app called Nuzzel.
I am addicted to Nuzzel because it does one thing that's incredibly simple and incredibly clever: It creates a news feed based on what your friends are reading and sharing in other social media, and what their friends are sharing. The result is amazingly interesting: You get a feed of headlines that feel much closer and more relevant to what you're interested in, because they're being tweeted or shared by friends, family and coworkers.
I don't have to read the news anymore because my friends do it for me, and then let me know if anything is actually interesting.
I'm not the only fan — Twitter investor Chris Sacca was raving about it too on a Periscope live video session late Friday. (An increasing number of people I talk to say Twitter should just buy Nuzzel because Nuzzel might go some way to fixing Twitter's chaotic newsfeed problem.) My colleague James Cook has been raving about it for weeks too, but I foolishly ignored him until recently.
Until recently Nuzzel has been very quiet and few people know about it. It only emerged from beta testing earlier this year. It has bumped along, ranked somewhere between 135th and 500th in App Annie's download rankings.
On Nuzzel, you see stuff that's relevant because when you're a Guardian reader, you tend to have friends who also read the Guardian. The cool thing is that because they already read the Guardian for you, and picked out the good bits in tweets and shares, you now have a feed of only the interesting bits from the Guardian.
The friends-of-friends feed is often more interesting because it surfaces stuff from further afield, stuff you didn't even know was news but suddenly feels interesting because it's buzzing on the outer-edge of your social sphere.
Through this incredibly simple organising principle — a feed of news stories shared by friends on Twitter, Facebook and other social media — Nuzzel appears to have solved one of the trickiest problems in mobile news distribution: how to create a news feed aggregation that's actually relevant, timely and interesting.
Think about it. There are hundred of different news apps, and mostly they are terrible:
- I gave up on Flipboard (the main problem there was it required me to pick topics and titles I was interested in, and then just delivered that to me. That is not what I want — I want to be surprised by stuff that is relevant to my interests, which is one meta-step away from that.
- Twitter is, well Twitter. It's just a random stream of chronologically organised tweets that gives equal priority to breaking news from the New York Times as it does to rape threats from a 16-year-old troll.
- Newsle is good if you want to know when your friends or people you follow are mentioned in the news, but that is not the same as relevant headlines right now (it turns out a lot of the people I follow either write, or are mentioned in, really boring stories — sorry guys!).
- And Feedly is a bit like Twitter, it gives me everything all at once in order, but not in order of importance or interest.
There's a great kicker about Nuzzel too: Its founder is Jonathan Abrams, who until now was best-known as the founder of Facebook forerunner Friendster. Nuzzel's COO is Kent Lindstrom, the ex-CEO and vp/finance of Friendster. Friendster, of course, flamed out really quickly in the early social media wars. The pair have taken $3.4 million in investor funding so far.
So basically, the people behind the very worst social network have somehow, more than a decade later, created the very best social media news reader.
Download Nuzzel at these links:
Here is what it looks like:
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