Trapit brings its personalized search app to the iPad — where it belongs

trapit ipad appLast year, startup Trapit introduced itself as an antidote to the overwhelming state of Web search with its personalized, Pandora-like application. Now Trapit is transitioning from your browser to the iPad screen, adding it to the mix of tablet search alternatives.

Trapit was spun out of the same DARPA-funded project that spawned Siri, and uses the same AI technology, just applied to search discovery rather than a virtual personal assistant. At surface level, Trapit’s system allows you to tailor search to your interests, and the application learns from what you like and share in order to deliver information you actually want to see.

Chief product officer and co-founder Hank Nothhaft, Jr. tells me that the site’s been growing and retaining users nicely since its launch in 2011. The average user visits the site for between 16-18 minutes two to three times a day, and numbers have generally been on the up.

trapit brings its personalized learning search app to the ipad where it belongs 0002 3As a browser app, Trapit is fine; it’s an interesting and unique way to access content. There’s a very real problem with the signal-to-noise ratio online, and Trapit is one of a few different solutions out there that offers some organization and qualifiers to help find and choose what we read. For the Web, it’s a novelty, and it’s a good one — but the tablet is where Trapit really makes sense.

Mobile search is on the rise, and refining the platform for this is still evolving. Turns out Google Search often fails when it comes to discovery and consumption. And that’s why apps like Flipboard and Zite have become so popular. While you might be inclined to lump Trapit in with that group, there are a few distinct differences.

For starters: the impact of social networks. While the app lets you connect via Facebook or Twitter (or email, if you prefer), it isn’t pulling the content circulating these sites and simply repackaging it for you. This is something that set another reader app, News360, apart. Personalization is important and while you might like your Facebook friends just fine, you don’t necessarily like the crap they are reading.

trapit trapsPerhaps the most telling differentiator is sources. This is important: you can make the slickest, smoothest, best-looking iPad reader app in the entire world — but if it’s only accessing a pittance of what the Web has to offer, then it’s a failure and I’d be better off using Alta Vista. Trapit pulls content from 120,000 sources — more than Google News, says Nothhaft.

The thing that really distinguishes Trapit is a combination of the personalization and superior sources. Beyond its news reader application, what Trapit really wants to do is personalize the Web. There are already a slew of applications that pull news stories from sources you like about information you’re interested in, but there’s a subtle yet important difference in adding your voice to every search and curating the list as you go.

Concepts aside, the Trapit iPad app features some incredibly refined features for a first iteration. Nothhaft showed me an early, early version of the app back at SXSW this spring, and it’s come leaps and bounds since then. “It wasn’t ambitious enough,” he tells me. “It didn’t give it the end-to-end experience that we wanted.”

trapit trapsIn addition to an embedded reading list, the main panel of the app will show your various “traps” in separated banners that you can individually scroll through. Selecting one will take you to yet more content that fits under the respective subject. Every story is sharable, saveable, and allows you to thumbs up or thumbs down it, teaching Trapit more about your preferences. The right-hand side bar is home to new discoveries that are happening in real time. And you can either drag to refresh or allow it to surface new stories automatically. You’re signalled whenever anything new rises to the top here as well.

You’re kept within the Trapit app the entire time; links, video, photos, sharing — nothing will pop you out of the Trapit experience — a nice, fluid approach.

Trapit, which is optimized for Retina display, has begun to realize its potential in iPad app form. There’s clearly a difference between customized content (which, in reality, is a really easy and vague box to check) and personalized content (which, if truly accomplished, takes some real work). Choosing this route and applying it to the iPad makes Trapit a compelling option for accessing the wild world of Web content.

Nothhaft tells me it’s “reasonable to assume” that an iPhone app is in the works with similar branding to the iPad app but retooled to make sense on the smaller screen. And while mobile seems like the most natural fit for Trapit, he also tells me it’s “reasonable to assume” that an overhaul of the Web app consistent with its mobile versions is also on the roadmap.


Golf ball-sized Lume Cube Air is a pocketable LED for photos and video

Off-camera lighting for smartphones and GoPros just got even smaller. Meet the Lume Cube Air, a smaller portable LED light designed for photos and videos that weighs only about two ounces.

The 100 best Android apps turn your phone into a jack-of-all-trades

Choosing which apps to download is tricky, especially given how enormous and cluttered the Google Play Store has become. We rounded up 100 of the best Android apps and divided them neatly, with each suited for a different occasion.

Will Chrome remain our favorite web browser with the arrival of newest version?

Choosing a web browser for surfing the web can be tough with all the great options available. Here we pit the latest versions of Chrome, Opera, Firefox, Edge, and Vivaldi against one another to find the best browsers for most users.

These 100 best iPhone apps will turn your phone into a jack-of-all-trades

The iPhone is the most popular smartphone in the world, and we want to bring out the best in yours. Behold our comprehensive list of the best iPhone apps, from time-saving productivity tools to fun apps you won’t be able to put down.

Keep on clicking with the 10 best browsers for Android

Browsing the web on an Android device should not be a pain. Check out our picks for the best browsers for Android, so you can surf the web with greater ease and access a trove of unique features.

Best Google Pixel 3 XL screen protectors

It's tough to find good screen protectors, but the 6.3-inch OLED screen in the Google Pixel 3 XL definitely demands to be protected from scratches and impact damage. We've picked out the best options and included insight into the downsides.

Taking shots in the dark with Night Sight, the Pixel’s newest photo feature

The Google Pixel range has always been the home of some of the mobile world's best phone cameras. That performance is now getting even better with the introduction of the low-light Night Sight mode.

Pocket Casts adds more cross-sync, curation, and Siri Shortcuts

Pocket Casts is a pocket staple for many podcast fanatics. But it's about to get even better with the introduction Pocket Casts 7.0 that adds intelligent curation, Siri Shortcuts support, and a streamlined UI.
Product Review

Mediocre battery and a big notch slight Google's otherwise perfect Pixel phone

Google’s Pixel 3 XL has two big flaws: The gigantic notch on the front, and mediocre battery life. That being said, this is the best Android experience you can find in a smartphone today.

Upcoming Galaxy S10 may support 8K video and have Neural Processing Unit

While we still may be months away from an announcement, there's no doubt about it: Samsung is working hard on its successor to the Galaxy S9. Here's everything we know about the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S10.

Here's our head-to-head comparison of Pandora and Spotify

Which music streaming platform is best for you? We pit Spotify versus Pandora, two mighty streaming services with on-demand music and massive catalogs, comparing every facet of the two services to help you decide which is best.

Netflix is testing a cheap mobile-only subscription tier in some markets

Netflix is trying to reach potential subscribers in emerging markets. To that end, the company has begun rolling out a cheaper, mobile-only subscription tier, which comes at around $4 per month -- half the price of the Basic subscription…

Samsung will reportedly announce its folding smartphone at MWC in February

Samsung has been showcasing bendable display tech for a few years and now a folding smartphone might finally arrive. The Galaxy X, or perhaps the Galaxy F, may be the company's first example. Here's everything we know about it.

Check out 30 of the best iPhone games you need to be playing

The iPhone has some of our favorite games available for any mobile platform. Here are the best iPhone games for every big-name genre, whether you're into puzzles, strategy, or something else entirely.