Nuzzel: an unobtrusive yet extremely useful news app

It’s been a while since I’ve written an app review post, mostly because I haven’t found any new apps that I have been excited enough to write a post about. That said, Nuzzel is a bit different than many of the other apps I have written about. Usually, I start seeing the benefits and value of apps almost immediately. It took a few weeks to truly appreciate Nuzzel.

Let’s start with app discovery. I tend to find apps either when they’ve succeeded in getting a blog post on one of the blogs I follow or they’ve made a splash on ProductHunt. I discovered Nuzzel one evening when Twitter pals were sharing screencaps of their homescreens, which is valuable real estate, where Nuzzel was featured. So I downloaded, connected to Twitter, and immediately forgot about it.

From notification...

From notification…

A few days later Nuzzel sent a notification that a number of friends had shared an article, and it turned out that it was something that interested me that I hadn’t stumbled on by myself. It is precisely this act of separating the wheat from the chaff that is Nuzzel’s real benefit.

...to story in one click. Nuzzel gets it right.

…to story in one click.
Nuzzel gets it right.

Twitter connects me to hundreds of people sharing thousands of tweets and links a day. I rarely have the time to go through a timeline and catch the last hundred tweets and find the latest and most important stories. Due to Twitter’s chronological feed (don’t change, Twitter, don’t algorithm-ize the feed) links shared a few hours ago can get lost. Nuzzel solves this problem and manages to find the right stories that interest me and (this is the key) not overwhelm me with too many.

So what do I like about Nuzzel?

  1. The “just right” amount of notifications. Right now, I have my notifications set to the default: alert when shared by 3 friends and no more than 5 alerts a day. I’ve found that Nuzzel usually notifies me when more than 8 friends have shared an article, so it must be picking out the ones shared more in order to meet my 5 a-day-limit. Smart.
  2. Timely. The requirement of having at least a few friends share an article means that I’ll be informed about news in a timely manner.
  3. Direct link to the entire article. I’ve never encountered a multi-page/slideshow format on Nuzzel, which I really appreciate. I read articles in the app and not in an external browser, so that could be the reason I haven’t seen them.
  4. Easy to find older content. Unlike Twitter, where I can spend hours looking for a tweet I thought I saw, Nuzzel keeps it organized with everything shared by friends in the last 24 hours. It also keep track of very popular articles that I might have missed. If I’m feeling adventurous, I can always peruse items shared by friends of friends.
  5. Connected to Twitter. I’ve written before about piggybacking app functionality on the “right” social graph back when Meerkat launched last year. My Twitter graph is a mix of US news, techies, global news, financial news, activists, and sprinkled with sports, Broadway, and music. It’s a much more diverse (and interesting) group than my Facebook friends, my Instgram followers or my LinkedIn connections. For an app that’s trying to surface the news that’s important to me, using my self-curated and continuously updated list of Twitter connections is the smartest choice.
  6. Ads: I have yet to see an annoying pop-over on Nuzzel. Thank you for that.

What I’d like to see:

  1. Read time: Medium estimates a read time and adds it to the top of each post, giving users a quick way to see if they have time to read the post now or to just skim the headline.
  2. Offline reading: give users a quick way to download articles to read during a flight/subway ride. Better yet, combine the read time with offline mode and let users pick a length of time to download for. Starting with the more important articles (more shared) and down to the least significant ones, users can fill their downtime with reading.

Finally, a note on Nuzzel’s notifications: by making notifications relevant and allowing users to control their frequency and trigger criteria, Nuzzel has created notifications that I value and almost always open. Bottom line: it’s a keeper!

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One thought on “Nuzzel: an unobtrusive yet extremely useful news app

  1. Pingback: A few musings on notifications in iOS by a long time Android user | What it all boils down to

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