Get Smart

By: Rich Kane

Get Smart

SmartNews is an app with a whopping 5 million users in Japan, where it originated just three years ago. And now like Pokemon and Hello Kitty it’s poised to conquer America.

Well, maybe. SmartNews has only been available through Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android operating systems since October 1, so time will tell. Until then, it’s necessary to ask the folks behind SmartNews if mobile and tablet users really need another way to get their news amidst the glut of sources already available.

Rich Jaroslovsky, SmartNews vice president of content, thinks they do.

“We think our model distinguishes us from others in the aggregation space,” said Jaroslovsky. “We’re going off of social signals, analyzing millions of URLs per day, looking at all the content that’s being shared on social media, looking at how widely and quickly it’s all being shared. So out of about 1,000 stories of millions analyzed, you get the top news stories anytime.”

SmartNews has a clean design and interface, with simple color-coded flip tabs a user fingers through–the usual entertainment, sports, lifestyle, business, and other topics you’d expect, employing an algorithm that pulls in trending news from popular sites like ESPN, CBS News, NPR and the Associated Press. Another tab lets you import your Twitter feed.

But there are also customizable tabs that pull in story links which lead to their direct sources. Add the Los Angeles Times tab, click on a story, and you’re instantly on the Times’ mobile site. Other tabs enable you to add quick access to the Huffington Post, Reuters, Mashable, TechCrunch, Bleacher Report and more. Think of SmartNews as a sort of Facebook timeline filled with real news from reliable sources, minus clickbait clutter like Upworthy and your friends’ cat videos.

So far, the Times is the only newspaper outlet that has partnered with the app, but Jaroslovsky said more are on the way.

“Newspapers are extremely important, and localizing is an area of great interest for us. SmartNews provides what a good newspaper always has done. When you open it, you get news, so there’s no logging in or having to answer any questions to read content. We wanted to lower the barriers and reward people immediately so they get news right away.”

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2 thoughts on “Get Smart

  • December 9, 2014 at 12:15 pm

    So what does the Los Angeles Times get from its “partnership?” Is there money in this for publishers or just the opportunity to make some money for someone else?

  • December 9, 2014 at 4:15 pm

    Partner publishers get the ability to place their own advertising on SmartView, our offline viewing mode, with no sharing of revenue with us. Their content, their revenues — 100 percent. They also get access to SmartView Insights, our real-time analytics dashboard, and get preferred placement in Channel Plus, a feature that lets users add additional tabs to SmartNews for their favorite sites — and which drive traffic directly to those sites. The cost to the publisher for all this is, uh, nothing.


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