Mobile apps that redefine ‘skimming’

By @vitthernandez on
Learning Using iPads
Students practise on their iPads at the Steve Jobs school in Sneek August 21, 2013. The Steve Jobs schools in the Netherlands are founded by the O4NT (Education For A New Time) organisation, which provides the children with iPads to help them learn with a more interactive experience. Reuters/Michael Kooren

For many serious bookworms, skimming is not real reading but just browsing. However, some app developers have been redefining the word “skimming” lately.

Blinklist , for instance, is providing 15-minute listenable and readable summaries to those who want to get a gist of a certain book. What made the app a hit is that it’s not just an ordinary summary-providing service—it offers professional summaries written by real writers. It is perfect for finicky readers, or those who don’t want to waste time on books with bad endings—summaries tell them if a title is the “right one” for them.

Spritz , on the other hand, wants to encourage and train the human eyes to “speed-read” with quality, or without losing comprehension that usually comes from skimming. According to the company, it can make reading 1,000 words a minute a walk in the park by laying out texts on a word-by-word basis.

Spritz said that its goal is not to help people finish a book in one go but to make the most of skimming, a reading habit that humans developed and enhanced in the age of smartphones. It added that pattern recognition, which happens in regular reading, leads to incredibly rapid reading paces and loss of comprehension.

In the news category, Born2Invest is also making waves in the past months since its launch in July. The app, which focuses on curating business and finance news, summarises stories from authoritative online dailies such as Forbes, CNN, BBC, and the like. It has barely spent a quarter on the app store but it’s already gained praises for its professionally written 80-word summaries. Unlike other news curation apps, its summaries are written by real news writers, making every “snippet” within the app informative and journalistic.

The free to download app will be available in 50 languages and 150 markets soon, making it the first “truly global” news curating mobile application on the market.

“ Through Born2Invest, we help solve users’ problems in getting free, quality business news in a concise and intelligible format, as well as the media’s growing problem as they lose tremendous readers to competing news outlets,” said digital marketing expert and M6 Limited CEO Dom Einhorn.

The Breaking News app, on the other hand, wants to focus only on breaking news stories across the globe.

“The company said it will use a combination of eyewitness accounts and the experience of editors to track what could balloon into a larger storyline,” Nate Swanner of The Next Web wrote . That said, Breaking News has a unique system and algorithm that will successfully distinguish trivial trending topics from real breaking news stories. It also promises to release not more than three “original” breaking news stories every day.

“Emerging stories shouldn’t be confused with trending topics or velocity alerts. At this early stage of a story, they’re not trending anywhere. They’re not big enough to trigger a big story alert--some ultimately do--but we know there’s an audience who will want the early heads-up,” the company said.

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