Fluent Mobile’s New iPhone App—An Elegant, Multi-Source News Reader

6/30/09Follow @wroush

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lend a consistent format to mobile and Web-based content from diverse sources. “Browsing the mobile Web can still be an extremely frustrating experience,” Adler said in a statement today. “Fluent Mobile is dedicated to narrowing the experience gap between mobile and desktop Web browsing by optimizing the search, organization and delivery of dynamic mobile content.”

Fluent News aggregates far less content than the mobile version of Google News, but packages it far more attractively and makes it much easier to navigate. And rather than sending you off to the original source of every story, as Google News does, Fluent News shows you the story inside the app’s embedded Web browser, where it’s able to impose a consistently readable typeface. (This doesn’t mean Fluent is stealing clicks away from the original sources—it’s simply taking advantage of same public news feeds that these organizations provide to everyone, and putting them in one place.)

Like Google News, Fluent doesn’t bother to show you every single story on a hot topic, like,say, Twitter as a medium for political organizing in Iran, to pick one that was hot this week. Rather, Fluent’s algorithms highlight one example of each major news story, and let you drill down to see related stories from other organizations if you want to.

The app has some other nifty features that you might expect from a sophisticated news reader for a desktop Web browser, but that I haven’t seen before on a mobile device. For example, stories you’ve already read are grayed out in article lists. And if you program the app with your Facebook or Twitter account info, you can alert your friends or followers about interesting stories, directly from the app. You can also share articles via e-mail.

Adler says the company has plans to release other apps that make the mobile Web more usable. Dan Chak, Fluent’s vice president of engineering, is helping him build those apps. Chak is known among Web developers as the author of a 2008 O’Reilly Media volume called Enterprise Rails. Adler and Chak also created CourseAdvisor, a website that helps budding students find the right degree and career training programs at colleges and vocational schools. CourseAdvisor raised about $12 million in venture funding before being acquired by the Washington Post in 2007.

But whether Fluent’s future applications are also for the iPhone—meaning the company will once again have to brave the App Store approval process—Adler isn’t saying.

Fluent News Demo

Wade Roush is a contributing editor at Xconomy. Follow @wroush

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  • Peter

    America only. Lame.