Social media and search engines burst onto the internet when innovative college students around the country realized new ways in which the internet could be repurposed to harness content and connect us with the world. In that same fashion, mobile application development is exploding onto devices and its all driven by talented innovators at some of the countries leading universities.
In May of 2010 two Stanford graduates released the Pulse News iPad App which essentially aggregates RSS feeds into a visual publication. The app has an beautiful but simple design that keeps it clean and easy to navigate. The user interface is clean and easy to navigate. For the amount of content it provides, the app feels seamless. Although it is an honorable idea, it wasn’t a huge surprise that applications like this would develop as mobile tablets and devices evolved.
When Jim Spencer came up with the idea for a mobile app that provided multi source video news analysis he made the move back to Columbia, Missouri to partner with his alma mater, The Missouri School of Journalism, to realize his idea. Students in various sequences at the school have the opportunity to intern in almost every position at the start ups headquarters in downtown Columbia. Newsy recently won the 2011 Appy Award for Best News App against stiff competition including CNN and The New York Times. The Newsy also has the highest rated news app for the iPad on the iTunes store. Newsy’s model involves aggregating, analyzing and synthesizing the news in short video segments and it appears to be catching on with many mobile news consumers. The Huffington post went so far as to call Newsy, “the future of mobile news.”
Other successful aggregators in the mobile space include Fluent and Flipboard. Fluent provides users with a variety of headlines from various news outlets on particular news topics. Flipboard takes content from users favorite social media feeds, magazines and defined categories and places all of it into a neat and user friendly magazine format. Apple liked the Flipboard idea and user experience so much that they named it the iPad App of the Year. Aggregators like this are popping up all over mobile app stores and are branching out from news into other areas including social networks and personalized content feeds.
What aggregators will rise above the rest to dominate the mobile space? Mobile users will be the ultimate judge of how effectively these apps are able to simplify the content gathering function.