Microsoft just quietly launched yet another experimental iOS app.
The company released News Pro, a new iOS app that uses Bing News to deliver personalized feeds of news based on your profession.
At a basic level, News Pro is similar to Flipboard, Apple News and other news apps that use algorithms to recommend stories based on your interests. But News Pro puts a slight twist on this by using your job title to make its suggestions. The first time you launch the app, you have the option of connecting it with either your Facebook and LinkedIn account and once connected the app surfaces relevant stories in the app’s main feed.
The app is still relatively bare bones and doesn’t offer many features other than some additional personalization features (more on those in a minute). But one feature that is particularly useful is the “speedy” option, which is similar to the “Reader View” in Safari. Once you click into a story, you can choose “Speedy” to get a version of the article that strips out ads and other elements that slow down websites so articles can load quickly and in an easy to read format.
News Pro is powered by Bing News, so there’s no shortage of topics to follow, though the app surfaces stories based on your profession, which can skew the types of stories you see. While I can understand why a person’s profession could be a good indicator of the types of news they may want to read, News Pro’s suggestions didn’t make much sense in my testing.
Since my title is “apps reporter,” the app accurately guessed I may want to follow Mashable and news about tech companies like Microsoft and Google. But it also recommended stories about the environment, enterprise technology, the oil industry and human resources for reasons I can’t figure out. When I started browsing for more topics to follow, it also suggested oddly specific topics like WebOS, construction, search engine optimization and, oddly, Wookiepedia none of which are topics I’d like to follow on a regular basis, if at all. Microsoft says it also takes your interests into account in its recommendations, though I saw few suggestions relevant to my personal interests.
The good news though is that you can easily unfollow the topics the app opts you into and you can move beyond its recommendations by searching for specific topics like sports, politics and entertainment.
The app is the latest project out of Microsoft’s Garage, which is where Microsoft showcases experimental projects created by its employees (previous projects have included last week’s Mimicker alarm clock app and the Invite app for scheduling meetings.)
Given the still experimental nature of the app, it’s not clear is Microsoft might have bigger plans for the app, but the company says it does plan to “continue to evolve and improve our app” based on users’ initial feedback.