With the release of the BuzzFeed News app today, the viral site joins a crowded field of news services looking to target young people with the same news in different ways. In fact, a search for the word “news” pulls up tens of thousands of apps combined in the Apple Store and Google Play.
So, in order to differentiate themselves from each other, publishers either use the app to post strictly their own content (BBC, CNN, New York Times, etc.) or focus on pairing original content with artfully “curated” stories from elsewhere.
Here’s how they stack up:
After months of publicly talking about it on social media, BuzzFeed finally launched their free dedicated news app on Thursday. With all the talk of delivering of something revolutionary, the news app looks similar to its competitors but delivered with the BuzzFeed “feel” of summaries and zany features.
It’s divided into two parts: “Catch Up” and “My Alerts.” The former is a single stream of constantly updated headlines, bullet-point facts and links to nearly two dozen stories written by BuzzFeed and from other sources.
The lack of offline capabilities for the article pages proved to be the biggest drawback for people looking for their news fix underground.
Also, it wouldn’t be BuzzFeed if it didn’t feature emojis, GIFs and quizzes — all of which are prominently placed. “My Alerts” is where the app’s settings are stored, so users can choose which notifications they want to received depending on interests.
Created by the New York Times, NYT Now is a single-stream of original news and curation from other websites that aims to deliver the “most important stories of the day.” Originally behind a paywall, the app didn’t initially catch on with price-conscious millennials so the company made it free in May.
As part of the changes, the slickly designed app reduced the number of stories it posts a day from 60 to roughly 30. Still, it offers a wide breadth of Times’ on-the-ground reporting and longer features. Unlike BuzzFeed News, the stories written by its journalists work offline (though links to non-Times stories do not) and come with a nifty identifier on how long it takes to read a story.
Like NYT Now, MicCheck (also free) from the millennial news site Mic is a single-stream combo of curation and creation. Its description claims that it’s “the only thing you’ll need to stay informed and lead the conversation.”
The stream relies on bold images and snappy headlines. Mic shares a lot of similarities with BuzzFeed News in covering the Charleston church shooting by framing it with a “what we know” format and its fatigued “one tweet” formula (in this case it’s “One tweet shows the media double standard in the Charleston shooting.”)
MicCheck doesn’t offer a lot of customizability aside from enabling or disabling breaking news notifications. Since the only text the stream shows is headlines, the constant tapping to read a story without any brief summaries that NYT Now and BuzzFeed News offers makes it inconvenient to easily peruse.
Originally designed for phones before expanding into the Web, Circa says it’s built for people to “follow the day’s news by delivering comprehensive yet to-the-point coverage in a format tailored specifically for mobile lifestyles.”
Basically, the posts are brief summaries of other outlets’ stories, written by Circa editorial staffers, with links in a separate section at the bottom to the source material. Circa, also free, says it posts 40 stories each day and updates them multiple times a day, if warranted. Depending how much a user loads while connected to the Internet, only some posts are available offline.
Yahoo News Digest
The free app was built from its purchase of the news app Summly, which summarized the day’s news. It sends out two digests a day, but does update itself if needed as it did with the capture of the suspect behind the shooting at the Charleston church.
Sourced from its editorial team and partners, like Good Morning America, the app only delivers eight topics and loads offline. Each post is a mix of pictures, text, embedded tweets and clunky banner ads. The posts are also organized like Circa, where the story’s references aren’t linked in the story but in its own section at the bottom.
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