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Yahoo News Digest is sharp and sleek. Students might like it. Here’s why I don’t.

favicon If you’re a loyal Iserotope reader, which I know you are (or want to be), you’ve been following my “Get Your Students to Love the News” series, in which I help teachers get their students to love the news.

This post is dedicated to a news app that didn’t make the cut. Yahoo News Digest is only several months old, just came to Android, and is visually stunning, like most Yahoo apps under Marissa Mayer.

I mean, it’s beautiful. Take a look at tonight’s front page:

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With glitzy design like that, students would love to read the news, right? Probably. There’s no doubt that Yahoo News Digest looks pretty.

But that’s not all. The app updates just twice a day — at 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. — just like newspapers of old. My family, for example, took the San Francisco Chronicle in the morning, while my friends’ family took the afternoon San Francisco Examiner. (Both papers are horrible now.) This is a brilliant move. Instead of pushing out articles minute after minute, Yahoo News Digest curates the most important news and packages everything into the top 8-12. As a result, we’re not overwhelmed. We feel like we’re reading the newspaper.

News Digest designer Nick D’Aloisio confidently told Verge:

We’re not saying these are things you’re going to be interested in. We’re saying, these are the things you need to know about.”

Here’s what the second page looks like. It’s nice and sleek:

2014-05-11 03.42.44There are several other excellent features to Yahoo News Digest. The posts feature beautiful photographs, colorful quotations, Wikipedia entries to build background knowledge, links to in-depth articles, and even trending tweets about the topic.

Who could ask for anything more?

It’s pretty amazing, actually — so amazing, in fact, that some may argue that Yahoo News Digest is a better version of Circa than Circa.

Not so fast.

I wrote about Circa recently, and it made my list of ways to help get your students to love the news, and you’ll notice that Circa made the cut, and you’ll notice that Yahoo News Digest did not.

So why Circa and not Yahoo News Digest?

First, Yahoo News Digest is a direct copy of Circa. The good folks over at Yahoo weren’t even trying to hide their intentions. I’m not a big fan of copiers.

Second, Yahoo News Digest relies on Summly, a computerized “news atomizer” that takes several real news articles, grinds them up, and puts them back together in a summarized form. Sure, Circa also atomizes the news, but there’s a sense that more real humans, not just artificial intelligence algorithms, do the summarizing. As a result, the quality of the stories Circa is by far superior.

Third, and most important, real news organizations want nothing to do with Yahoo News Digest. And why would they? It doesn’t seem like a good business plan to sell your product to a news chipper, a news slice-and-dicer. As a result, Yahoo News Digest relies on the Associated Press, Reuters, and other multinational newsgathering agencies. On the other hand, Circa uses more reputable sources, like the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and the Washington Post.

There are plenty of other reasons that Circa is better than Yahoo News Digest. I especially like how you can follow topics. But most of all, Circa’s user interface, which break up an article into cards that swipe up one at a time, is perfect.

OK, so this post became a Yahoo News Digest vs. Circa debate, with Circa winning, and that’s fine. Even though Yahoo News Digest looks prettier, don’t let appearance deceive you or your students.

It’s better to go with content than with looks.

Do you agree with me? Check out both apps and let me know what you think. Which would your students prefer, and why? favicon

Please share your brilliant insights!