The idea of niu.ws is quite simple, delivering ‘hand-picked’ news to its subscribers. Hence, it is competing against other news apps like Cir.ca or Yahoo’s News Digest. Cir.ca is probably the closest competitor (or maybe the model), but compared to it, Niu.ws offers more specific and personal news (channels), not only general topics.
Also, for the busy and stressed, it provides a quick update of relevant news, without having to access different news sites or feed readers like feedly or digg reader.
Generally, I am impressed. The selection of channels is, thus far, relatively focused on the digital and business side, which I like, but that’s obviously something that will also alter through time, based on demand. There are quite some renowned people curating the content (e.g. @MartinWeigert or @MartinSteiger) and the articles shared are mostly superb. Though, I do not follow (did not subscribe) all of the curators on Niu.ws, so I might be biased to some extend.
Since a few days ago (an update), the curators can add a personal note below the articles’ headlines, which certainly adds value – one you would expect from handpicked news.
A rather annoying flaw at first, that seems to be fixed now, was that some articles duplicated the paragraphs, making it unpleasant to read.
Another negative factor is the automatically created sentence “Hey, I’m reading this interesting article on” when sharing an article. While this is not per se negative, an option to individualize it would be marvelous though. The firm acknowledged this already in a newsletter and promised to fix it soon.
During the first days and weeks, obviously, there were some bugs, letting the app crash occasionally. This also got better by now, so I do not want to elaborate any further.
No such thing here.
Features I Would Add
As you probably noticed, this post is in English, but the app is in German (The firm’s located in Switzerland). Hence, I would like a feed or articles in English (some are already). Probably, most people, at least the intended target group of Niu.ws, are bilingual. So a button/switch to choose and adjust the languages would be something. This would add another layer of complexity, but might be beneficial, if the app / the company continues to grow and wants to scale.
I would also like a ‘mark read’ option (like in feedly), either manually or preferably while scrolling. Thus far, at least for me, the only way to mark articles read is by actually clicking on them and reading them. Makes sense. That’s what the firm stands for. Quality news that you want to read. However, sometimes an article (still) is not interesting or you do not have time to read it at the moment, but also don’t want it to ‘show up’ later again. The news flood is rolling.
A nice app with some minor flaws, for all of you that want to try some alternatives in the news-flooded world, where every platform suddenly wants to become a publisher. It also antes up the quality, especially given the fact that most (tech) articles are rather buzz-centric than anything else.
One question still remains, in what way Niu.ws, or better Newscron, the company behind the app, wants to make money. I suspect, they already have plans, but it’s not certain yet.
Note: The Newscron AG also has another application called newscron, which groups and selects articles based on algorithms. The firm’s focus (according to their website) is however on the Niu.ws app.
Disclaimer: I am not associated with the company nor am I receiving any form of monetary benefits or payment of kind. This is my very own (subjective) opinion.