A wave of apps like Wavii and Summly serve news on the go

Fri Nov 30, 2012 9:58pm EST
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By Gerry Shih

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Silicon Valley may believe that mobile devices represent the future of information technology, but they've yet to come up with a slick and comprehensive way to read and process news.

A growing group of technology entrepreneurs hopes to change that.

This week, Wavii, a start-up founded by a former Microsoft Corp employee, Adrian Aoun, unveiled a free iPhone app that filters news stories from around the world, crunches them through a natural language processing algorithm and presents them in five- or six-word summaries.

Over the past two years in Seattle, Aoun's team of two dozen machine-learning experts secretly developed code that boils down a news story into a basic subject-verb-object format, and draws connections between disparate news stories.

"Our edge has always been the technology," Aoun said.

Wavii has been online for several months, and Aoun has noticed that readers spend nine times longer browsing news headlines in his rudimentary prototype smartphone app than on his desktop website.

Wavii's app lets a user slice and dice a search into something as specific as "employment change in the technology sector," Aoun said.

Aoun's app pits his company against the likes of Summly, a mobile news reader headed by Nick D'Aloisio, a 17-year-old who is being backed by Li Ka-Shing, the Hong Kong billionaire; Yoko Ono, the widow of Beatle John Lennon; and a host of more traditional Silicon Valley investors.   Continued...