There are situations that are especially well suited to catch up with the latest news and other reading. Over morning coffee, when you’re on the move during commute, or whenever you find a free minute of time.
Paper print already faces opposition from the tablet market, but what about your mobile phones? They’re ideal to carry around whenever you head out; they fit in your jacket pocket. But the screen real-estate isn’t ideal for long format reading. Anything longer than a paragraph puts before you a choice between two lesser evils – miniature text, or frantic scrolling.
The solution then must lie in the efficient representation of information. Instead of wasting half a paragraph making the reader feel comfortable, or smuggling in smart puns, mobile reading needs to be concise and to the point.
Summly is an iPhone application intended to make reading on your smartphone more enjoyable and most of all more efficient. It picks the crucial parts out of longer articles, effectively summarising it so you can read only the essentials, usually without scrolling once.
Rather than putting a team of editors on the task, Summly employs an artificial intelligence and natural language processing algorithm to generate the summaries. The algorithm bested all but one of the articles I threw at it, generally providing a surprisingly well-written and well-summarised digest of the article.
After the initial configuration, opening Summly will greet you with the slick home screen, pictured below. At a glance, you’ll see how many unread Summly’s are still waiting for you. From here, you can jump right in by opening one of the trending articles, or explore your Topics (as explained below).
The articles are displayed with the content source and original length at the top. Double-tapping the text brings up a longer summary. Of course, some articles aren’t fit to be summarised at all; human interest stories and single-article overviews of multiple topics are among those. In these cases, you can tap through to read the full-length original story instead.
Topics & Content Management
Articles are categorised by a number of topics, like technology, business, politics and entertainment. Clicking through from the homepage shows you this list, along with the number of unread articles per topic and its respective content sources. Here you can browse articles per topic instead of reading off the Coverpage of trending articles.
By managing the topics, you can also manage what articles appear in your feed. At the bottom of the topics list, you can tap through to toggle specific topics on or off to choose which appear in the overview, and which types of content are considered for your Coverpage. You can also change the individual sources per topic, again ticking off those that you don’t want to clutter your feed or enabling those you’re interested in.
What do you think of the idea of summarising articles? Do you like the idea of news digests, or do you prefer to read articles full-length as they were intended? Share your thoughts on Summly in the comments section below the article!