Among the various apps that promise to make the news more digestible, the most interesting are those looking to use software to boil down stories into short summaries. It’s the Twitterfication of information: turning big concepts into bite-sized chunks that can be consumed in about a minute.
Over the last few years, Israel-based Wibbitz has shifted from making software to convert text into video for other publishers into a consumer-facing news delivery app that shows minute-long video versions of big news stories. Their technology scans through the text of an article for names, places, and numbers, and creates a video version of the story by finding or creating relevant videos, photos, maps, and graphs from around the web.
Version 3.0 of the app launches today, and after a few days of use I can say that the company is doing a good job of steadily moving its app towards what I would consider the ideal version of its concept.
A few hiccups aside, videos load extremely quickly every time. For top stories, videos now feature narration by an actual person, making for a much better listening experience compared to the app’s computer-generated audio, which kind of sounds like an old version of the Windows Narrator voice. And as part of its new responsive design, videos are less cluttered with huge numbers on mobile every time some figure is mentioned in a story.
My personal wish list for the app is rather short at this point. I’d like the ability to save videos for offline viewing so I can watch a few during the minutes my BART train is under the bay during my morning commute. Along with the video and text summaries of articles, I’d also like an audio format, so that I can use it to quickly catch up on national news while exercising. Now that I’ve been spoiled by video narrations done by actual people, a better voice synthesizer for the rest of the articles would make for a more consistent experience.