App of the day: Summly review (iPhone)

You may have heard some of the hype surrounding today's App of the Day, Summly. For its creator, 16-year old, Brit Nick D’Aloisio has been hailed everything from the new Mark Zuckerberg to the second coming of Jesus Christ himself.

Okay, so the comparisons perhaps haven't stretched that far but he is getting rather bigged up online and his app is being developed by Horizons Ventures after it caught the eye of Li Ka-shing, the world’s 11th richest person.

He was even flown out to New York for some high profile business meetings. At least we think they were high profile - they were reported in The Metro after all.

Summly

Format
iPhone, iPod touch
Price
Free
Where
iTunes

The basic premise of Summly is a simple one. And within its simplicity lies its brilliance. Summly is a "simpler way to browse and search the web by automatically summarising search results, webpages and news articles" making it easy to find what you're after, quickly, and with all the useless gubbins cut out.

It works as a standalone app, or as an extension to your iPhone's Safari browser after following a few simple steps to get it up and running. The idea is you find a webpage you want (or rather, it helps you find the page you want) and then, rather than you wasting your precious time reading it all, it summarises the key points using a "patent pending summarisation technology" that researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have apparently tested.

Summly is easy to use, features a nice-enough UI and the idea is a brilliant one. Sadly, more often than not the results are either unavailable - despite the character count on the page being above 500 - or the key points get jumbled up. The summarising is very inconsistent.

Take these two examples. The first, a Pocket-lint story about the new Sky 1 series Gadget Geeks is summed up nicely. For the second, a Guardian story, it seems to think that the contact details of the MediaGuardian newsdesk are more important that the main points of the story.

So why include Summly as an App of the Day we hear you cry? Simple really, it's one to keep an eye on and it's a good idea to get in early to familiarise yourself with the setup in case it does blow up to be the internet sensation that many tech blogs are saying it will be.

And it is, at its core at least, a fantastically useful idea and the a fair crack at cutting the web wheat from that web chaff. It's just got a "work in progress" feel to it at the moment.

 



>