News360 is releasing a new version of its iPad app today. It’s meant to be a major revamp of the news reading app, one that CEO Roman Karachinsky tells me has been in the works since August of last year.
The most noticeable change is a new look for the app. Overall, the design feels cleaner and slicker than the versions I’ve seen in the past. There’s a new home screen you can see the biggest and most relevant news in one place before diving into different categories. And when you open up a story, the article and related images are now given much more space on the screen.
One nice touch is the fact that users can now treat articles as “story cubes”, which they rotate within the app to additional bring up features like social sharing and saving for offline reading. The features themselves aren’t new, but the cube interface gives the presentation a little bit of pizzazz that was previously lacking. That’s important, because as much as the many news app-makers out there like to say they’re more technologically sophisticated than Flipboard, I think they really need to keep up on design front too, especially if they’re going to compete on the iPad. (We’ve complained about News360 coming up short on the design side before.)
Karachinsky says News360 is also doing more on reader personalization and feedback. One of the company’s stated goals has been to present you with stories you wouldn’t otherwise see, not just a pretty version of the links in your social stream. It’s taking that idea of keeping you better informed even further by giving you a score of one to three stars each day for your reading, based on things like time spent reading, the breadth of your reading, and how deep you go on each article. Many users will probably ignore the score, but for some, it might be nice incentive to keep going, and then a reassurance when they want to say, “Okay, I think I’ve read enough for the day.”
And as readers collect more stars, News360 is collecting more data about their interests and preferences, and is personalizing its results to match.