New Yorker App and News Apps

Succinct is hard, but it is what we want.

I recently wrote, on Medium, how all of my news is sourced through three iOS apps: Reeder, Economist Espresso, and Medium. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed working with these apps as they offer the perfect way to consume news:

  1. Headlines
  2. Summaries
  3. Full thing if you need it

Add to this list now, the New Yorker Today app and the Quartz News app. The New Yorker has always been very hit and miss for me over the years — often what they write is too long and dense on a topic which doesn’t hold enough interest for me to want to read it. But 2-3 times a month, they hit the nail on the head. The hard part: finding that stuff.

The new app is perfect for that. Offering an easy way to browse what their recent offerings are, without the need to remember to check the website.

Likewise, Quartz is never a site I sought out, but the way they deliver the news in the app, is fantastic. They tell me everything I need to see and know.

This has lead me to think about what I like about these apps so much. It comes down to two factors:

  1. Smartly curate what you show me. Keep out the shit, and only show me the stuff that you think matters. I’ll use RSS for the things I think matter. The job of these news apps is to cover things outside of what I would want to see in RSS.
  2. Summarize it. Give me just a few lines to tell me what it is about, and a way to read more if I want. Don’t give me the headline with my only option being to read the entire thing. Likewise, don’t just give me two sentences with no way to find out more. Succinct is surprisingly hard.

Of all of these apps, Quartz does a fantastic job of this — if slightly annoying at times. I think their app repackaged as something less chatbot like could be very powerful. But Economist’s Espresso app takes the cake. I can read each daily edition in very little time and feel very well informed on world events. They don’t offer links to read more in depth, and honestly they don’t need to, because they have done such a fantastic job of writing up the reports in just a few sentences.

The trend in apps like this is clear: thoughtful distillation of topics which are presented clearly. This is essentially what evening news reports used to do for people everyday, while the newspaper would be what you turned to for in depth looks. Now we are getting this not from TV news, but from apps showing small curated collections of top stories. Want to know about the economy: Economist. Want to know about US News: NYT Now. Want to know about global news: Quartz.

Make your own news potpourri and be amazed that you can devour it all in less than 30 minutes — often less than 15 minutes for me. I spend more time now processing Twitter, than I do processing the day’s news.

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