Personalized news app News360 yesterday updated its Windows Phone application, which makes up one of what’s still a relatively few 50,000 apps for the platform in the Windows Phone Marketplace. Right now, the device platform has just under 2 percent of the smartphone OS market, but that could change: Analyst firm IDC, for example, reported in June that, “assuming that Nokia's transition to Windows Phone goes smoothly, the OS is expected to defend a number 2 rank and more than 20 percent share in 2015.” Nokia, whose first Windows Phone 7 devices have been available in the U.S. since earlier this year, is expected to announce two Windows phones on Monday, according to Reuters: a cheaper Lumia 610 and a global version of its high-end Lumia 900 phone.
News360, which joined the Microsoft BizSpark One program in November, is tapping into the action with the update that now sports a user interface designed around the Metro UI concepts pioneered by Microsoft, according to CEO Roman Karachinsky. It’s marked by “simplicity, cleanliness and efficient flow, which is radically different from the design of our iOS and Android apps,” he says. “The app also uses several features unique to Windows Phone - like live tiles, which allow you to pin the categories that you want to follow more closely straight to your home screen.”
News360 worked closely with Microsoft on this release, he notes, as part of Microsoft's Mobile Acceleration Week development, a program to get partner companies together with the designers and developers of Windows Phone “to yield amazing apps for the platform.” Other features News360 touts for the latest version also include connecting their social media accounts to tailor news to their interests and Fast App Switching support for a better user experience.
When it comes to any differences exhibited by users of its application on different platforms, there’s one interesting point Karachinsky brings up: News360 Windows Phone users read around 20 percent more articles in a month than iOS users, and 50 percent more than Android users. He also says that he’s starting to see more competitors adapt their applications to the platform. “News360 was available in the Windows Phone Marketplace on the zero-day of the platform's launch,” he notes. “As the platform gains popularity, I'm sure more will follow, but we're confident that we can keep our lead on the platform.”
What’s next for News360, which last fall also was awarded a $1.5 million grant from the Skolkovo Foundation? Says Karachinsky, “News360 is committed to improving our semantic analysis platform and personalization engine to the extent where we will be able to measure most people's interests extremely accurately from a small set of training data - a lot of the grant money is going towards that pursuit, which involves a lot of scientific research and experimentation, and in just a few months you should start seeing the fruits of that work appearing in our apps.
We can't reveal too much until then, but I think that it's going to be groundbreaking.”