Ever since Jack Dorsey retook Twitter’s reigns in June, the co-founder hasn’t minced words about the social network’s failure to accommodate the majority of users who engage with the service infrequently. Ultimately, he said during an earnings briefing in July, Twitter should be “the first thing everyone in the world checks before they start their day.” Today, the company’s taking a small step toward that utopic vision with News, a new tab on the Twitter app for Android and iOS that curates trending headlines.
The News tab, which a Twitter spokesperson told Buzzfeed is still in the experimental stages, is currently live in Japan. It aims to aggregate news across the platform in a single, convenient feed — not unlike RSS. It sits between notifications and messages on iOS, and shows top stories from major publications including the New York Times, USA Today, ABC News, and NBC News. Tapping on a headline reveals a summary, link to the full article, and related tweets.
The News tab is one of several initiatives intended to shape Twitter’s informational firehose into cohesive, digestible new forms. It debuts ahead of Project Lightning, a human-powered feature that’ll curate tweets, images, videos, Vines, and Periscopes around news topics.
“We’ve seen in the past that we have so much conversation around events,” Twitter head of global media operations Katie Jacobs Stanton said about Project Lightning in June. “But the challenge we’ve had over the years is, although we have the world’s greatest content, it’s like having a television without a channel guide or even a remote control.”
Twitter’s angling for a balance of “recency and relevance” with the new features. The News tab and Project Lightning, which aim to surface information that casual and longtime users alike might find useful, build toward Dorsey’s ideal of Twitter as “the most powerful microphone in the world.”
It’s a vision that hasn’t gained traction among investors. Despite a strong quarterly report — Twitter topped $500 million in revenue, a 61 year-over-year climb — the social network’s stock hit an all-time low of $28.69 today over concerns about growth.