I have found several news apps I really like over the last couple of years, like Zite, Flipboard and Pulse News. Still, there’s always room for something new, and Trapit is different and useful. Trapit for iPad was born out of an artificial intelligence project completed by DARPA and SRI, and has some of the same DNA as Siri.
You sign up for a free subscription, and start selecting some topics you are interested in. By having an account you can also sign in from a web browser. Unlike Zite, subjects are completely open. You can type anything and get hits from the more than 100,00 sources that are currently available.
Even better, like Zite, the app learns from your selections and fine tunes your topics over time. There are also a great many pre-selected subjects, like the White House race, daytime TV or the British open. You can also share your discoveries to Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest. Email sharing is also supported.
So how does it work? Frankly, I didn’t find the setup particularly intuitive, and I was surprised to find absolutely no detailed help built into the app. The app is not impossible to set up, but I just found it a bit clunky. Topics are in alphabetical order. I’d prefer to arrange them myself. With all the articles available, Trapit has a nice feature that shows brand new items on the right side of the screen so you don’t miss them.
Results were good, both in the pre-selected subjects, and some really obscure topics I created. The search algorithm seems quite sophisticated, and if there are mistakes you can find tune them, and eliminate topics that you no longer want to search for. Mailing articles was flawless. I think the biggest advantage of this app is the freedom of topic selection, and the ability to learn as you seed more and more topics. I wouldn’t replace any of the news discovery apps I have now, but I certainly think Trapit is worth a look, especially for free.
Gallery: Trapit for iPad