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Yahoo retires cult favorite News Digest app in favor of Newsroom

Yahoo Mail
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Since 2014, Yahoo’s News Digest app has offered a unique way to stay up to date on the world’s events without getting lost in an unending torrent of headlines and improperly formatted RSS feeds. Sadly, it seems its days are numbered, according to a note attached to what is presumably the final update.

Yahoo will be shutting down the app on June 30. The news comes just days after Verizon finalized its long-pending acquisition of Yahoo to the tune of $4.8 billion. In its place will be Yahoo Newsroom — an app that more closely imitates competitors like Google Play Newsstand, Flipboard, and News Republic.

What set News Digest apart was its highly specialized focus. The developers positioned it as an app you could dip into twice a day — once at 8 a.m., and again at 6 p.m. — to catch up on eight curated, streamlined articles covering various topics. That was it; no fluff, no hassling users to like or share content, and no interface designed around elaborate swiping gestures you need an hour-long class to understand and memorize. You learn something, and you get on with your day — the mobile ideal fully realized.

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Because the concept was so simple, Yahoo was able to do some pretty remarkable things with design. This meant a roomy, attractive landing page with all your articles arranged in numbered order, given colored categories and icons to denote the kind of media contained in each post. Every story would end with a link to further explore topics in depth or some kind of pull quote or statistic in big type as a major takeaway from the narrative.

In comparison to the competition, News Digest was like a breath of fresh air. And with Verizon’s ownership seemingly having claimed another casualty, the app is currently directing users to try Newsroom instead.

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There is nothing outwardly offensive about Newsroom, but it is a far cry from its predecessor. The layout is busy, and navigation is cumbersome. Ads take up as much space as news stories do in the feed, and comments are given prime real estate under every single post.

It’s the age-old struggle to push users to do more than is truly necessary or beneficial, and News Digest was the antithesis to that trend. The app was actually created as Summly by British teenager Nick D’Aloisio, before Yahoo purchased it in 2013 for a reported $30 million.

If you’ve never used News Digest before, you have one more week to give it a spin on Android and iOS — just try not to get yourself too attached. You can also check out our list of the best news apps to find a solid replacement.

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Adam Ismail
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