The company continues to try to win over users Android with a new service for reading news and articles.
Google released a global update to its news service this summer. The app turned out to be beautiful but useless. So the announcement of Hummingbird, the news app from Microsoft, seemed interesting to me. The company has learned to make beautiful and convenient mobile applications, so there is a chance to get good service.
Interestingly, Microsoft Hummingbird only launched on Google Play. There is no version for iOS, browser or even Windows. This is just a continuation of the story that Microsoft is trying to make friends with Android.
The application is currently only available to users from the United States, the rest can download the APK file. The only caveat is that the service does not yet have the Russian language and our news sources, only English. The company has promised that the application employs cool artificial intelligence algorithms that pick up news. This is what I wanted to check in order to understand whether it is worth pressing the Hummingbird release in Russia.
Outwardly, Hummingbird looks nice, but the application makes the most of the irrational use of screen space. The feed contains only two posts at a time with a minimum of useful information. You cannot change the format of posts in the application, there is little that can be customized in the application.
The application immediately asks for help and choose interesting news categories – there are many of them and they are conveniently divided into subcategories. But the big disadvantage is that there is no way to subscribe to specific publications, because there are a lot of junk sources in the categories. After setting preferences, news will begin to fall into the general feed. It is impossible to customize the order of issuing materials – it is completely subject to algorithms. You can add several news feeds for separate categories, but the general feed will still remain.
I liked that old materials rarely appear in the news feed and you can immediately notice them in the feed. If the text is published today, the time of publication will be written under the title. If the time is not specified, then the material is more than a day. Therefore, it is strange for me to see news of 5 days ago in the feed, otherwise they can be immediately highlighted in the feed and skipped.
At first, Hummingbird's algorithms worked strangely, like all similar services. I was not lazy and pressed the dislike button on bad news, so over time the recommendations started to work better. You can also completely unsubscribe from specific publications. I have not been able to get rid of the news about Trump, they make up about 30% of the entire feed. In addition, dubious publications periodically pop up in the tape. So I don't like algorithms.
Popular posts from social networks sometimes appear in the feed. Getting a video of manicure or lipstick from Instagram was weird, then at least they started showing videos of cute animals. It has become nicer, but the solution is still strange.
By clicking on the news, a simple mobile version of the site opens. For some editions, Hummingbird allows you to run a convenient reading mode without ads and banners, only text and illustrations.
In the reading settings, you can adjust the text size in just three steps, there are two different fonts and three backgrounds. This would be enough for me, but the reading mode does not work well. It only displays some of the text from sites that have a 'show entire article' button. This happens, for example, with articles by The New York Times. Also, the reading mode sometimes cuts out the necessary pictures from the text, so you almost always have to use mobile versions of sites.
I decided to use the feedback form and wrote to the developers that the reading mode was not working correctly. Nobody answered me.
All opened materials are saved in history, so you can always return to an interesting article. There is also a save button if you want to read the text later.
Microsoft had a nice app, I liked it better than the new version of Google News. This time, the algorithms have started to give me suitable materials at least a little, but I still want to select sources myself and receive news in chronological order. I don’t believe companies will abandon their algorithms, but I would like to be able to choose.