Microsoft has released a brand new application, its very own news application, in fact. This app is called “Hummingbird”, and it is currently available via the Google Play Store. Do keep in mind that this app seems to be region locked, though, as only users in the US are able to access it, at least based on the info that we have at the moment, though you can download it from a third-party source and give it a go. In any case, once you download this application, you will be asked to sign in with either your Microsoft or LinkedIn account, even though you don’t have to, you can use the app without an account, and sign in later on. In any case, once you’re past that point, you will be thrown into the app’s main screen, and the app will ask you to “Set up your MIX”. Once you hit that button, you will basically be able to choose what you’re interested from, there are a number of main categories available, such as entertainment, politics, science and tech, sports… and so on. In each of those categories, you will find a ton of subcategories you can choose from, so, for example, in the “science and tech” category you will find gadgets, apps, mobile… and so on. So, essentially, this app will adapt to your tastes as you use it, that is something that the app tells you as well, once you select your interests. In our case, we had to close the app and open it again for the feed to refresh and our categories to load, so you may do the same. In any case, as far as the design of the app is concerned, it’s really simple, there is a menu bar at the bottom which consists out of Feeds, Search, and Me options, each of which is self-explanatory. In the top-right corner of the app’s layout, you will find a “+” button which will allow you to add more sources to your list, and you can, of course, favorite articles, and by doing so, save them to the side, while you can also share them, and so on.
Background: There are quite a few news apps available out there, and a number of them are playing the AI card. Google News come to mind first when AI is mentioned, as the company made a big splash about how Google News will adapt to the reader, and about its curated content, even though people are not exactly overjoyed at this point, and are missing stuff they’re interested in. Google News is only one example, there are a number of other, similar apps out there, and Hummingbird is looking to join the ranks.
Impact: Hummingbird is also playing the AI card, at least to an extent, as the app is promising to be even better with time, as it learns from what you’re interested in. So, in retrospect, as long as you select the right categories, it will throw the right news your way, and it will pay attention to what news exactly you’re interested in those categories and subcategories, so that it can make better predictions in the future. Such applications did not exactly wow users thus far, and many of them still default to manual curation, and RSS news-reading applications, but we’ll see how Hummingbird will fare, in due time.