Wibbitz is a new media experience for iPhone that will aim to deliver “beautiful” video summaries out of the text articles published on the web.
The eventual mission of the service, (according to its official website), is to make possible “a new experience for mobile content” that changes the way we “consume” information on mobile devices.
The app uses a fresh and unique interface style that we’ve yet to see implemented in any other app, which involves a computerised-sounding voice both visually displaying and reading through the latest new articles to hit the web. Served up in real-time, as each headline is displayed the built-in voice will read aloud the article’s title, alongside serving up images relating to that article’s specific topic.
Swiping in the “upward” direction on any headline you wish to learn more about will see Wibbitz summarize all the latest information from across the web that relates to the story you have chosen, into a short ‘visual-audio’ experience.
As photos slowly glide across the screen in the background, and Wibbitz vocally walks you through the most “major” points of the story you’re interested in, (with direct links just a swipe away) — the app’s foreground is saturated with moving and animated stats relating to the article’s most important “takeaways,” maps of the locations referred to, photos taken at the time the article was originally written – (and more). These animated parts of the story will also move along with the story’s pace as it is read aloud.
It’s a great way to visually consume the latest news, covering: Top Stories, Business, Technology, Sports, Entertainment, Politics, U.S and the UK, with ‘World’ and ‘Local’ also available as addable channels from the app’s Settings menu.
While it’s an admittedly admirable effort for “version 1.0,” I do have a few issues with Wibbitz. The first being that the app’s focus is currently way too centric to the United States, in terms of the latest “breaking news.”
Sure, Wibbitz offers to serve the latest news from the UK via web source Telegraph Online, but what I’d personally like to see is the app include some other news sources for breaking UK news, in order to continue its “fair” approach to news reporting. This could also be improved for the U.S, too, as the app only currently appears to grab stories from Reuters.
In addition, the app’s navigation and need for the user to “pull down” on the iPhone‘s display, in order to reveal more accessible news channels – (at least in my short time using Wibbitz) – appeared to conflict with the ‘pull-down’ gesture required to access Notification Center.
Granted, that’s probably an emerging issue Apple may need to re-think about, rather than an actual flaw with the app itself.
With all the above said, though — looking at some of the company’s previous investments in the technology industry, it would appear these guys know exactly what they’re doing:
Wibbitz is backed by top tier investors including Horizons Ventures, Li Ka-Shing’s private investment fund. Horizons Ventures is known for investments in the field of artificial intelligence and advanced NLP technologies. Past investments include companies such as Facebook, Siri, Spotify, Waze and Summly.
Does Wibbitz have the clout to reinvent how we consume the latest breaking news on mobile? – Well, perhaps not in this version. But, it’s a solid start.
You can get your copy of Wibbitz on the App Store, today – and best of all, it’s completely FREE. The app has been optimised for the iPhone 5, and weighs-in at a lightweight 12.9 MB.