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Apture, a startup that enriches the online reading experience with pop-up windows of extra content, is making its tool available to readers on any website today with Apture Highlights, a new browser extension.
In some ways, the core of the Apture product still looks the same as it did when I wrote about the San Francisco company two years ago. It still allows readers to see extra content (say a Wikipedia article or a YouTube video) related to what they’re reading, in the form of a small window that hovers above the page. It may sound similar to other pop-up technology like Snap Shots, but the implementation is notably smooth and interactive.
And Apture has been streamlining its product. Cofounder and chief executive Tristan Harris said that after publishers installed Apture, their activity tended to drop off over time, because it was just too much work to create each of those links. (Regular VentureBeat readers may have noticed a similar phenomenon here, since we use Apture but have been including fewer links due to those same difficulties.) So the latest version of Apture allows readers to search for any term that they want. For example, if you’re reading the Financial Times and wanted to look up a politician mentioned in the article, it doesn’t matter whether or not the author included an Apture link — you can just select their name and bring up their Wikipedia entry, their Twitter account, speeches and interviews on YouTube, and more.
Perhaps the coolest thing about this feature is the fact that you can also perform Apture searches within Apture content. I suspect most readers are used to following their curiosity through multiple Web searches and pages. Now you can do that without leaving the page where you started or opening a bunch of new browser tabs. Harris said publishers have found that readers stay on the page two to three times longer after Apture is activated.
Harris said the new browser extension should help familiarize readers with the Apture concept and experience, and perhaps serve as a showcase to bring future publisher partners on-board, too.
After installing Apture Highlights in Chrome, Firefox, or Safari, you can perform Apture searches on most websites. (Though it won’t work on VentureBeat, since we have another version of Apture installed already.) Apture says it pulls content from more than 60 sources, including Wikipedia, YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google Maps, Amazon, Google Books, Flickr, and the Washington Post Congress Votes database.
Apture’s investors include Clearstone Venture Partners, which led the company’s $4.1 million first round.