Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

Just the News That’s Fit to Read: Summify Launches an iPhone App

Sometimes keeping up with the Internet can seem like an endless assignment. The tweets and Facebook posts scroll infinitely, the email piles up, and news sites and blogs publish around the clock.

That’s why Summify seems so different. The company, whose main product to date has been an email update, sends a periodic personalized short list of stories that it has determined are the most relevant for you.

Today, Summify is launching an iPhone app. Again, it’s rather simple. Once a day (or more, if you choose), Summify sends you a notification saying you have a new set of stories (five is the default, but you can set the number). At the end of the list it says “That’s it, you’re done!”

How odd, but how reassuring — now you can go back to your life secure that you know what’s going on in the online world.

The stories Summify sends are determined by a combination of how many times your contacts have recently shared them on Twitter and Facebook and how many times they have been shared on those networks globally.

Next to each link you see the faces of your friends and feeds that shared it, plus an annotation that says how many tweets, likes and shares it has gotten. As a daily Summify email subscriber for the last six months, I often find it interesting to see which stories are most popular with people I know versus those that resonate with a larger audience.

So yes, Summify — which definitely bears some similarity to other social news apps like Flipboard and sites like Techmeme — is ultimately a popularity contest. The summaries it sends are more like a watercooler conversation primer than a guide to more niche interests — unless of course you only follow people on Twitter who are into those niches too. (See part of my summary from this morning above; it’s extremely tech-centric.)

“We’re not trying to figure out breaking news. We lean towards relevancy over real-time,” said co-founder Mircea Pasoi in a recent interview with AllThingsD.

Added co-founder Cristian Strat, “All of our infrastructure is real-time, but we think in days or hours. We’re not trying to generate headlines every five minutes.”

Summify has now processed 1.2 billion stories, which is 10 times as many as it had two months ago, because of growth in users, the two said.

Next up for Vancouver-based Summify are a redesign of its Web and email experience to be more like the iPhone app, and adding new social networks like LinkedIn and Tumblr. Summify raised seed funding earlier this year from Accel Partners, Rob Glaser, Stewart Butterfield and other investors.


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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus