Mic launches a news app that you might never need to open

With its latest app, millennial-focused publisher Mic said it’s hoping to give you a full newsreading experience from your iPhone lockscreen.

The app is an updated version of the MicCheck app, now simply called Mic. Anthony Sessa, the company’s vice president of product and engineering, told me that one of the big goals was to take advantage of the new rich notifications in iOS 10, allowing Mic to provide a full newsreading and viewing experience without having to open the app.

So after you’ve set things up, you’ll start getting notifications from Mic when the latest news breaks. You can still use those notifications to jump into the relevant part of the app itself, but even before that, you’ll be able to watch short videos and read news summaries directly from your notifications. (The videos, by the way, will have subtitles so you don’t need to turn your sound on, and they’ll download in the background, so you won’t get a notification until they’re ready to watch.)

Chief Strategy Officer Cory Haik said that if this new style of “lock screen storytelling” means you don’t open the app itself, “We think that’s a success.”

Mic video notification

But she argued that this isn’t just another step in the direction of bite-sized news edging out more in-depth coverage: “It would be a mistake for us to say we want to do all of our journalism in shortform.” Instead, Mic is trying to “the right length and format” for every story — and then there will be a separate team responsible for curating and writing the notifications.

Haik added that this is part of a broader strategy to focus on Mic’s owned-and-operated properties. She argued that the company isn’t trying to “walk back any play on the distributed side” (i.e., its efforts to publish content directly on social media), but it’s also important to cater to the more engaged readers on Mic’s website and apps.

After all, she said that after the launch of the new Hyper video app, Mic saw that Hyper users were spending an average of 15 minutes in the app per session.

“That’s something we don’t see on any other platform,” Haik said.

Mic has also been experimenting with desktop web notifications — she said that when someone comes to a story or a video from one of those notifications, they spend 10 percent more time engaging with the content than users who come from other platforms.

There’s an Android version planned too, though Sessa noted that it won’t have the iOS notification capabilities.