With so much emphasis on timeliness of breaking news, most news publications suck pretty badly when it comes to updating you as new information comes to light for a particular article.
Mobile news app Circa is the opposite of that, with a mobile-first strategy that takes great care to inform you of important current events as they unfold. (That means you get a notification on your phone whenever new info is added to a breaking story.) Content is arranged in a way that makes it easier to digest news on the go, while actually doing a better job of adding context than most other digital platforms because it uses maps, graphs, photos, and more. If you find yourself browsing for news on a smartphone often, you really owe it to yourself to check out Circa.
And with today’s major update, Circa’s mobile app is really putting the focus on improving breaking news alerts. It’s an extremely smart move for the startup because it forces Circa to become a destination rather than just another news publication that sees most of its inbound visits coming from social networks and news aggregators. Thus, Circa is free to dictate the entire experience its users have browsing the news while spending little (or no) time promote. In other words, Circa doesn’t care if you like one of its articles on Facebook. It just wants you to read those articles, which it can do through news alerts in real-time.
“The finesse involved with getting breaking news notifications right — it’s actually a lot of work,” Circa cofounder and CEO Matt Galligan said in an interview with VentureBeat. He added that this could be why more publications don’t offer many options for breaking news notifications.
To improve the notifications, Circa first decided to strip down the user interface a bit to put a greater emphasis on “following” stories it runs. When you follow a story, you get updated via mobile notifications whenever new pieces of the story are added. Circa also added a new “Wire” feature, a dashboard that tracks all the stories you’re following. The service also added greater control over the types of stories you can get breaking news notifications for. For example, I can choose to be updated on foreign politics and technology, but keep news alerts from the entertainment category off.
The changes should make Circa far more useful to people who just want to keep a casual eye on the daily news cycle without getting sucked in. The greater control over news notifications also means that Circa avoids the problem with some of the other rival “daily custom news” apps, which pick a handful of articles it has determined are the most important of the day. For instance, Yahoo’s rival News Digest app displays a mix of articles that were published much earlier in the day.
“I really don’t like the idea of getting stale news, and I think Circa’s update addresses the problem people have of keeping up with top news stories of the day without wasting time,” Galligan said.
The update really shows the potential Circa has to replace the practice of skimming news headlines from RSS feeds or social media streams for a basic understanding of what’s going on in the world.