A new mobile app called Wavii scours content online based on interests you select and summarizes it into a news feed for you. But it's too focused on celebrities and company-specific news to really make a splash in the aggregation app space. It also isn't nearly as graceful or innovative as a couple of apps that do nearly the same thing only better. Chief among these is Flipboard (free, 4 stars), one of the most beautifully designed apps I've ever seen, and our Editors' Choice among apps for browsing curated content. StumbleUpon's iPhone app (4 stars, free) equally earned our Editors' Choice award and differs from Flipboard in that it's more about exploring new content from the depths of the Web, than browsing posts and articles from the blogs and media outlets you love (which is what Flipboard does best).
Wavii's app tries to nail a new concept by not just aggregating news, bus also summarizing it and removing duplicate (that is, very similar) items from your list, but it doesn't hit a real stride in this early attempt. Worse, it loads very slowly and doesn't make clear to users exactly how it works and how their actions influence the app's results.
You have to log in with Facebook. There isn't an option to sign up using only an email address, which I sorely lament. I don't appreciate having to give Facebook more advertising data about me simply to use some other service, and it is the number one reason I'll delete the app and revoke the permission from Facebook the moment I'm done reviewing the product for PCMag.
Upon initial launch, Wavii suggested some topics for me to follow: Acquisitions, Apple, Justin Bieber, Facebook, European Union, Kim Kardashian, and a number of other celebrities, politicians, and companies. While a few general topics surfaced in this list?Acquisitions, EU, Travel Announcements, Arrests, Interviews?I wasn't fully satisfied with the celeb- and brand-heavy selection.
In the section called Main Feed, Wavii delivers headlines and summaries of news stories on the topics that you've selected. A tag at the top of each item indicates its classification if it isn't apparent in the headline. For example, a news item with Food and Drug Administration in the headline clearly came from me ticking my interest in Food and Drug Administration announcements, but Wavii helped me out by putting the "Movie Trailer" tag above a YouTube video named "LOL (2012 film)."
Some items contained a quote below the headline, which gave me a better idea of the story's content. If "Interview: Danny Bilson interviewed for Ripten" leaves you asking, "Who?" then the quote goes a long way to clarify: "THQ CEO Danny Bilson has related in an interview some of the thoughts ?"
Each item in the Main Feed also features a feedback icon. Press it, and five emoticons appear. Unfortunately, it's not clear what these icons do. What's the difference between the blue happy face and the gray one? What happens if I press the angry face? Some Wavii users will unfold the details of the app by using it, I'm sure, but I like to know what my actions mean, especially for an app that is connected to Facebook and thus capable of feeding all my actions into an advertising manager's spreadsheet. Furthermore, I also want to know how my actions will affect the app's decisions regarding what content it will feed me next. I still rue the day I gave five stars to Big Momma's House 2 in my Netflix account.
Other options in the app lets you "Discover" new recommended topics, although I found the selection here to be just as paltry as the first one I perused. The list consisted almost entirely of pharmaceutical companies.
You can diver further into any story by seeing other sources that reported on the same material?perhaps the most useful feature, but replicates more or less what Google News provides?as well as the original source. When you pick a story and see more details about it, Wavii also offers you the option of "following" the people, media outlets, companies, or topics related to that story. This feature seemed to work well for me, until I checked out my profile, where you can see the number of topics and people you're following. After selecting to "follow" both Richard Branson and Squawk Box, I noticed they turned up in my profile as "topics" I follow rather than people. My hunch is that Wavii needs to do more usability testing to see that not all its naming conventions and functionality make total sense to a new user.
The new news aggregating app Wavii has a long way to go before it can compete with the likes of Flipboard, Twitter, or even StumbleUpon. Twitter has an air of excitement. It's incredibly fast-paced, and you never know what might happen. Flipboard excels as the number one app for browsing news and media, curating high quality content for you and displaying it exceptionally well. And for exploring the Web, no app does it better than StumbleUpon. Wavii has yet to make its mark.
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