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Review: Yahoo News Digest for iPhone is a new way to look at the news

Yahoo is getting pretty aggressive in the iOS world. Last year, it topped the Apple weather app with one that was prettier and more useful. Apple even responded by using similar elements in iOS 7.

Now, Yahoo is getting serious about news with a new app called Yahoo News Digest, which provides a summary of top news stories. The content is updated twice daily. Each story consists of an original summary, plus several "Atoms," or key quotes, images, videos, Wikipedia excerpts and other material relevant to the story. The idea is to give you more information than the typical wire service story or single-sourced report.

For example, in a story on App Store sales, the app provided a good summary of the story, a relevant video and references to Associated Press, Reuters and other web links, as well as a little background on Apple.

Visually, it's a unique-looking app. You scroll up for more info. You scroll to the left to get the next story, to the right to see the previous one.

It's an interesting approach, but unlike news readers like Zite, it doesn't give you any choice about the topics. And it doesn't learn from what you are reading. Everybody gets the same eight or nine stories. I'm also troubled that it's updated only twice a day. What happens when there is breaking news? Yahoo News Digest probably isn't the app for that, although it did ask me if I wanted notifications to be active.

The app is partly powered by Summly, a small company purchased by Yahoo that uses some smart algorithms to summarize content. It was a US$30 million dollar takeover and, at the time, no one was sure why Yahoo purchased the company.

As an adjunct to other news apps, Yahoo News Digest is quite useful. It's beautifully put together, and easy to use. I hope it evolves to let me make some content choices, and it would be nice to see it update more frequently.

Yahoo News Digest is not universal (drat!) and requires iOS 7. It is optimized for the iPhone 5.



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Software

Yahoo is getting pretty aggressive in the iOS world. Last year, it topped the Apple weather app with one that was prettier and more useful....