As I read more and more news on my phone, I am constantly on the lookout for better apps to discover and display that news. My current favorites are Twitter for discovery and the BBC and New York Times for content. The Lumi app isn’t new, but it’s very appealing in its simplicity, so I decided to give it a try.
What I liked:
- Onboarding via the app was quick and didn’t even require creating an account. The app requires permission to access my “Device & app history,” which includes browser bookmarks and history, which it then uses to find relevant articles.
- The automatic curating did a really good job at showing me articles I would be interested in reading. All were relevant. But, while some were new articles on topics that interest me (good) others were about the exact news item I had read about in other publications (bad) making them redundant. It’s a challenge to
- Full text and pictures from the articles are displayed in the app. I like that I’m not launching a browser with every article selection a la Google News, which does a great job with headlines and snippets but requires me to launch a browser to read the full article. The design is clean and UI is intuitive, though I’d replace much of the scrolling with swiping.
What I’d add:
- Timestamp on articles will make it easy to see what’s new. It bothers me that right now Lumi doesn’t show one. This is news, after all.
- Registration. There’s currently no way to create an account via the app and it’s also unclear what benefits registering provides. Signing up with Twitter to improve curation is only available on Lumi’s site.
- Learning. Right now I cannot “help” Lumi learn more about my preferences. If Lumi allowed me to dismiss articles that are not a good match for me, it could improve the article selection process.
- Categories. I read about many different topics. Tech and new products for sure, but also about my favorite TV shows, music, recipes, restaurants, design and so on. It would be easier to read if all these categories weren’t all lumped together.
- Avoid the retargeting trap. Ever since I searched for hotels in New York earlier this week, all my ads have been for hotels. I have already booked my hotel, making all this retargeting unnecessary and annoying. I hope Lumi can avoid such behaviour, perhaps by limiting topic repetition or analysing articles beyond a high-level topic analysis.
- What happens when I read via other news apps? Right now Lumi tracks my browsing, but on my devices I tend to read articles via news apps as well. The flip side of this is access to more data that users, perhaps, would not be willing to allow.
- Cross device syncing: I have a laptop (not often used for reading, true) a tablet and a phone. It would be great if Lumi analyzed behaviour across these devices and avoided articles I have already read on another device.
The key to me continuing to use Lumi is its curation abilities. If I find that I can get all of my long-form articles via the app, it will probably end up as my go-to news source. If it becomes challenging to find content or I find out that I have missed important stories in my topics of interest, I will find another source. If it isn’t constantly up-to-date I’ll probably still use it to read less time-sensitive articles, more in-depth articles and less breaking news. It’s not a dealbreaker if that happens, but again, it all depends on smart curation.