Everyone is trying to crack the curated news segment. From Google News to Apple News to Facebook and Twitter’s algorithmic feeds, some of the biggest companies out there are doing their best to find the news you want to read, but if I’m being honest, few of them manage to do it. They get close, but I often find articles in my feeds that I have no interest to check. Microsoft is throwing its hat in the ring with a new app, Hummingbird, and my first-run experience with it has left me with the same mixed feelings.
Hummingbird seems to only be available in the US (at least it’s not available in Germany, India, or Lebanon), but we got the APK up on APK Mirror if you want to give it a go.
The app starts by offering to sign you in with your Microsoft or LinkedIn accounts, but you can go ahead and skip if you’d rather not commit just yet. The main screen asks you to set up your “Mix,” i.e. the list of topics you’re interested in. Unlike Google News, you can’t drill down to granular options like a specific sports team or player, or company, or celebrity. Instead, you get general categories like NBA, celebrities, road trips, and cooking.
Once your mix is set up, the feed gets updated with the articles you’re most likely to be interested in. You can tap the options button on any article to save it, share it, dislike it, or simply just block all news from that particular source. Tapping an article opens it in the original site it was published in, but keeps Hummingbird’s title bar where you can switch into a reading mode (with control over font, background color, and text size) as well as copy the URL.
If you’d like to update your feed with more topics, a plus button on the top right lets you do so easily (the hummingbird icon on the top left does nothing).
Besides the feed, there are two other tabs in the app. “Search” acts more like a shortcut to general topics, and “Me” takes you to view your topics, saved articles, and history. This is also where you can sign in or access settings. Thankfully, those include an option to clear all your data and to disable automatic video and GIF playback.
Microsoft says Hummingbird will get better with time, as the AI learns more about what you like to read and what you avoid. Though, as always, that’s to be seen.
If you’re still looking for your perfect curated news application, maybe you should give Hummingbird a try. For a first release, it isn’t too shabby. You can download it from the Play Store if you’re in a supported country, or from APK Mirror if you’re not.