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The news never stops, and sometimes it’s difficult to keep up with current events when our hectic lifestyles are always on the go. This week, we have an app to keep you informed without requiring you to take time out of your busy schedule.
Spokata — available on iOS devices, desktop, and mobile web — is a mobile audio platform that streams real-time news. Pulling from over 100 verified digital news sources such as BBC, Bloomberg, and The Guardian, it provides you with short but factual summaries of real-time news.
“We built a summarization algorithm that actually takes news articles as they’re published and crunches them down by as much as 80 or 90 percent, and then that’s what we push out to the user — short, fact-based text which is then converted into audio,” Zack Sherman, CEO and founder of Spokata told Digital Trends.
With podcasts becoming more and more popular, it’s clear that people are shifting backwards to the way we used to consume content — through audio. Instead of having to commit to looking at a screen while watching a video, audio simply involved you popping in your headphones and pressing play.
Spokata is extremely user-friendly, with a clean interface that’s not over-cluttered. When opening the app, you’re greeted by “Top Stories” feed, which you can then scroll through in a manner similar to how you would on Facebook or Instagram. For each story, you’ll see a photo pertaining to the article, a headline underneath, what publication it’s from, and when the article was published.
If you want to listen to one story in particular, all you need to do is tap the play button located on the photo. You’ll then start to hear the short summary of what it’s about. At the top of the app is a list of different categories you can choose from. Whether it’s World, Business, Entertainment, or Politics, Spokata covers all the bases.
For those interested in a variety of different topics, there’s the option to go through each news story and add it to your playlist. By tapping on the playlist icon in the top right-hand corner of an individual news story, you’re able to compile a list to play fully through.
There’s also the option to play the “Daily Briefing,” which complies all of the latest top stories. It’s a quick and easy way to simply catch up on the important news, without having to go through the feed first.
When I tried Spokata myself, it was definitely a change from the podcasts I listen to, which consist of real people speaking. Spokata, on the other hand uses Polly, which is an Amazon AI text-to-speech service. I did find it was hard getting used to the tone of voice that was reading the news out loud. At first, it felt awkward I had trouble focusing, as I was used to having news delivered by human beings.
But Spokata isn’t trying to capture unique expression with text-to-speech audio. “We want to live in that place where we’re giving people just the facts … and giving people the opportunity to then productively find what they want to spend their time reading to get more of that information,” Sherman explained.
Eventually, the app’s purpose overshadowed that minor detail. The summarizations were easy to follow, and I was informed of the day’s news before I even left for work. I made my playlist with a mix of tech, entertainment, and world news, and then let it play while I was getting ready.
While there’s really not much to the app as a whole, its functionality packs in a lot. By choosing what you’d like to listen to and letting it play, you’re able to consume important content while still being able to multi-task. Spokata also has integrations with Facebook and Twitter, so you can share news through social media with friends as well.
As of right now, you do have to go through the stories and create your own playlist each time. In the future, it would be nice if updates could allow you to save the type of categories you want to create playlists from. That way, when you open the app, it’s all ready for you to hit play.
I also noticed that though it pulls from 100 different news sources, my app would only aggregate content from the same few ones each day. So even though my feed was filled with different types of news, it seemed a bit limited as to how many different publications I was being exposed to.
But in the city especially, it’s tough to be able to catch up on all that’s going on in the world, when most of my time is spent underground on the subway or maneuvering through crowded streets. With Spokata, I was still able to go about my day without my eyes having to be glued to a screen in order to understand a story.