News at a glance with Wavii

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By Pete Davison Comment

Wavii is a new iPhone app from the service of the same name. It’s available now as a free download from the App Store.

At its core, Wavii is a news reader that allows users to follow topics they are interested in, seeing short, at-a-glance summaries. Users can then react to these stories through comments, like-style immediate responses and sharing on other social networks.

Beginning by pairing with either Twitter or Facebook, users are initially subscribed to 20 different topics, some of which appear to be pulled from Facebook Likes or people followed on Twitter, but others of which appear to be chosen randomly. When tested, the app subscribed me to a feed of information about the musician Prince, for example — to my knowledge, I have never expressed a particular like or dislike for Prince, so this inclusion was somewhat bewildering.

These initial 20 topics may be unfollowed from the user’s profile page if desired. Doing so is a little cumbersome, however, as the interface in this component does not appear to respond particularly accurately to touch — sometimes tapping a topic unfollows it successfully, other times it decides to scroll to the profile page of the topic in question. There is also a long, noticeable delay between user touch and response from the interface, particularly when the app is loading the profile page.

To find new topics to follow, users may browse through a list of suggested topics or search manually for them. There seems to be relatively little consistency in how topics are presented, however — searching for “anime” only brought up anime-related brands and websites, for example, while searching for “video games” allowed for the following of information about specific games — though not, apparently, the ability to follow “video games” as a general topic. In this sense, it’s difficult to figure out exactly what one should be searching for when picking topics to follow.

As an alternative means of finding new topics to follow, the app’s main feed screen also allows users to scroll through several broad topic areas — entertainment, politics, technology et al — and selectively follow related topics that they might be interested in. This is not presented particularly clearly, however — if the user wishes to follow the “photo shoots” topic, for example, they must first tap on a story relating to photo shoots, scroll down past the details of the story and then follow “photo shoots” from the list of attached topics. It would be a better user experience if the user were able to simply and easily follow this topic from the main feed.

When the user has found an interesting story, they may leave a comment on it for their friends who use the app to read and respond to, or alternatively leave a “reaction” icon, allowing them to express various emotions about the story. These thoughts then appear in the main feeds of the user’s followers, allowing eventually for a personalized feed of what friends are reading and responding to. Stories may also be shared on Twitter, Facebook and via email from within the app.

Wavii is a decent idea at its core, but its execution is somewhat flawed at present. Its interface is rather busy and difficult to parse at times, and its responsiveness is frequently rather sluggish. The concept of following topics and building up a personalized news feed of content that the user and their friends are interested in is a sound one, but the implementation of discovering and following these topics needs a bit of work, because at present the app is a little confusing.

Wavii is currently ranked at No. 28 in the top free news apps leaderboard. Follow its progress with AppData, our tracking service for mobile and social apps and developers.