News apps are a dime a dozen, and social is the future of news. These two truths, by now, are fairly self-evident. It would follow that social-driven news apps should exist aplenty, and in fact, they do.
Social news turns out to be a tough beast to tame, though. Many have tried, many have failed. Most lack the proper balance, either being heavily skewed towards the social or the news side: too much news, too little social, or vice versa. Some are laughably slow or resource-heavy; some are simply painful to navigate.
Prismatic is a new and quite promising contender. After unveiling a redesign this week, which the team put quite a bit of thought into, Prismatic has, arguably, emerged as the king of social news. Let’s take a look.
After signing up, you’ll begin by selecting a few topics you’re interested in. Once you’re finished, you’ll be taken to your home stream, a mashup of all the topics you care about.
The app is well-designed, keeping the news front and center, eschewing any extraneous features in favor of readability, and navigation is simple: scroll or use the ubiquitous j/k keyboard combo to go back and forth between articles.
When you find an article you like, you have a few options along the bottom of the story: recommend it within Prismatic, share it via a smooth overlay on Facebook, Twitter, or via Gmail (doing this in-app rather than opening a popup window is a smooth design move), or save the story to read later.
Recommendations are provided in the right sidebar, and in my experience, they’re pretty good. Recommendations may include topics, fellow Prismatic users, or both. Simply click the ‘+’ symbol next to a topic or person to add it to your stream.
The social aspect begins with importing your contacts from Facebook, Twitter, or Gmail, then selecting which of your friends you’d like to follow. Each is given their own profile, which you can browse to see what they’ve read, recommended, and shared. If your tastes are compatible, again simply click the ‘+’ to keep up with what they’re reading.
You can also browse by publisher. Clicking on a the ‘Writing and Writers’ section, for example, I can click the ‘top publishers’ button to see what publishers are most prominent in that particular feed, then, as always, I can add individual publishers to my stream if I care to. You can also get to a publishers stream via a link above each individual story.
Prismatic is the best kind of social app: the kind that gets better over time. The content itself is compelling, and there are a plethora of ways to discover new and interesting content, quickly and painlessly. When you simply want to read the news, though, the social aspect gets out of your way and lets you read- in a beautiful and well-designed atmosphere.
There seems to be big things planned for the Prismatic team, so it will be an exciting startup to watch. They recently released an iPhone app, and one would hope that an Android app isn’t too far behind.
Prismatic has replaced Google News as my go-to source for news content, and we’ll be keeping a close eye on them. The entire experience is exceptional, making it an easy choice to stamp the app with the Sssimpli seal of approval.
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