Yahoo! acquired startup Summly for somewhere around $30 million just one month ago, but it’s already bearing fruit. First, there was the Summly summarized version of its Q1 2013 earnings last week, and now there’s a brand new flagship Yahoo! iOS application out today (for U.S. users only for now) with Summly summaries built right in.
The Summly acquisition attracted a lot of attention, in part because it was helmed by 17-year old Nick D’Aloisio, and because part of its technology was based on a licensing arrangement with SRI, the same company that originally spawned Siri, Apple’s virtual voice-powered assistant software. It’s been speculated that gaining access to that license in part motivated the acquisition.
The app offers Summly summaries of news stories it provides, in a “virtually endless” newsfeed that foregrounds images shown off full-width on the iPhone’s display. Search is said to be improved, both for video and images, and you can drill down to different categories and select topics that interest you, as well as flag those that don’t to make for improved content selection. If you’re logged in with your Yahoo! ID, those choices will also percolate across platforms, meaning you’ll get better results on Yahoo! on the desktop as well as on mobile.
Perhaps the most impressive thing about this new app is the speed with which the Summly integration was achieved. Even if things were rolling behind the scenes before the announcement of the acquisition, the product cycle looks to have been quite short. And Yahoo! has also just delivered completely redesigned weather and mail apps for iPhone and iPad, respectively, making its near-simultaneously launch of this re-imagining all the more impressive. Looks like some of the efforts CEO Marissa Mayer has put in place to focus the team, including the decision to end remote work, have indeed done their job and focused the team.
Yahoo! has previously attempted to deliver personalized news via iOS, with its Livestand app for instance, which aimed to create a custom magazine for iPad users based on their interests. At the time I suggested that Livestand both looked good and had its flaws, but ultimately lacked the brains to go the distance. The Summly ingredient, as well as improvements to personalized recommendations (remember it also picked up Jybe late in March, too, to help with that side of the business), could help make sure this does a better job of attempting what Livestand wanted to accomplish. We’ve also heard from sources close to the project that unlike with Livestand, which was shut down after less than a year, Yahoo! intends to stick with this app for the long haul.