Home News Discovery iPhone App is (Almost) the “Pandora for News”

News Discovery iPhone App is (Almost) the “Pandora for News”

Fans of “old media” who treasure the sensation of flipping through inky newsprint have argued against the customized curation of Internet news. As they see it, this eliminates the chance of discovering a story or topic you didn’t know you were looking for. However, the Internet has been known to leverage technology in order to resolve these conflicts. Just as Pandora helps music lovers discover music according to their tastes, a new app for the iPhone – The Accidental News Explorer (ANE) – invites users to “look for something, find something else.”

The app is powered by Daylife, a content curation and discovery platform, and will cost iPhone owners $1.99 to use. Simply enter a search term and the app will return (mostly) fresh news about that subject sorted by search relevance. You can quickly scan the headlines or select one to see an excerpt, the source of the story or a list of related topics.

Links to read the full story launch a fully capable built-in browser, or you can chose to open the story in Safari. The app supports iOS 4 app switching, so you won’t lose your place. You can also chose to email or copy the link or save it for later to your Instapaper account.

The Good: I really like the idea of stumbling onto news, and the ability to quickly scan headlines about a given topic without knowing the source eliminates our media loyalties. Searching works pretty well for both broad searches like “technology” or more specific ones like “iPhone app development.” Results were relevant and from good sources.

One small feature also makes digging deeper within topics easy and unobtrusive to workflow within the app. If you search for “baseball” and then remember you want to read up on the Red Sox, you can start a new search from the “baseball” search results page. The app then provides a link to return to the previous search, letting you pick up where you left off. It’s a small feature but it goes a long way.

The Not So Good: Accidental News Explorer (which, let’s be honest, could use a better name) is beautifully minimalistic and feels “newspapery” with its grey color scheme and serifed fonts, but it also leaves much to be desired. I really would like to see the ability to save searches into a list of favorite topics implemented in a future version of this app.

This could take the app to the next level and make it far more powerful by allowing it to curate a list of news at the intersection of my various interests. I would love to be able to select a few topics and set this thing on shuffle. That would truly make it the Pandora of news. StumbleUpon, which just went mobile with iPhone and Android apps, is a better solution for that at the moment.

For version 1.0, this app is pretty solid if you enjoy browsing for news. Most of us, however, are very loyal to the news outlets we most trust, and breaking that habit can be difficult. $1.99 could be a bit of a barrier to some as well, but if you want to mix up your news consumption, I recommend giving Accidental News Explorer a look.

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