Talking tech since 2003

News app Circa is releasing a big update to its iOS app today that has been optimized for iOS 7 in the form of version 2, and alongside the updated iOS app comes an Android version as well.  I spoke with Circa co-founder and CEO Matt Galligan to get a better understanding of what’s new in the updated Circa app.  “There’s a lot we have figured out,” said Galligan, referring to how readers are interacting with the app and how it has affected some of the changes the company made to the app.

The updated Circa app features a new presentation of story lines that makes for much faster reading.  Additionally, pictures and maps have been improved, for example you can now pinch-to-zoom on maps to get more context.  But the biggest new addition to Circa is the way it now handles breaking news. Breaking news is a tough thing to do and get right, no one has truly cracked the code yet (in my opinion), but Circa’s approach is unique and one that I think could work really well.

So how will Circa do it?

circa-follow-storylineYes, there will be push notifications, but the real benefit to using Circa to follow breaking news is you can follow a particular story. It works like this: You have Circa installed > Breaking news occurs > Push notification from Circa > Go to the story, Circa shows all of the relevant information they have > You can choose to follow the story > If you follow the story, you will be notified of updates.

When Circa chooses to categorize a story as “breaking news,” it’s not a decision that will come lightly.  While the decision as to what is breaking news and what isn’t will ultimately be decided by Circa’s editors, co-founder Matt Galligan pointed out to me, “We’re also incredibly mindful of peoples’ time.”  He went on to tell me how he personally hates being interrupted by a push notification, especially breaking news, that seems completely useless.  I’m hopeful Circa will be able to make those decisions better than most.

But what about if someone follows a breaking news story that is extremely fast moving? Circa has considered that as well.  “Early on, getting updates quickly will be important, and those will be sent out in real-time. Though as the story progresses, it’s more likely that we “package” multiple updates together so as to not inundate readers,” said Mr. Galligan.

I like this implementation because it gives people the ability to follow the latest updates without having to re-read stuff they already know.  That’s a common problem with news, when something new happens reporters are tasked with the burden of recapping old things along with the new information to give context. Circa solves this problem by updating existing story lines so readers who have been following a story don’t have to re-read information and so new readers have a choice to go back and get more context if they want (or need) to.

SEE ALSO An Inside Look At Circa and How It Is Reinventing the Way We Consume News

Despite the Android release of Circa being new, feature-wise it is identical to its iOS counterpart.  Of course, it is optimized for Android — I’m told it is far from just a port of the iOS version.

As for that improved web version of Circa?  It’s coming, but no word on exactly when just yet.

You can download the latest versions of Circa in both the App Store and Google Play.  If you have upgraded to iOS 7 you may even have it already (provided auto-updates are enabled).

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