SiliconFilter

Scoop.it Launches Mobile App, Lets You Curate On the Go

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"Curation" was, without a doubt, one of the hot topics of 2011 and one that will surely keep us occupied in 2012 as well. Scoop.it is one of the companies in this space that caught my attention quite a while ago and that has – without much hype – quietly build a great service for those who want to collect and publish all the interesting things they find online. With a focus on simplicity and efficiency, the service has found quite a few dedicated fans since launch and the company is now taking its service mobile with the launch of its iPhone app. Indeed, Scoop.it argues that mobile is the "natural form of mobile publishing."

If you are not familiar with Scoop.it, here is a short video that explains the basic ideas behind the service: 

As you would expect, the mobile app brings all of these feature to the iPhone. You can use both the service's own recommendation engine to find "scoopable" content, or install the mobile bookmarklet in Apple's Safari browser. Installing bookmarklets on iOS is a bit of a hassle, but well worth the effort if you plan to use Scoop.it regularly (and the app provides you with helpful setup instructions as well).

Once you publish your finds, Scoop.it will add them to its magazine-like pages. Unlike other service (including the red-hot Pinterest), the service doesn't focus so much on visual content (though you can obviously add images to your posts), but puts an emphasis on text. 

Professional users can also opt for a paid account ($79/month), which allows you to use your own domain name and provides you detailed analytics and support for multiple administrators/curators.

Scoop it mobile

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10:08 pm


Even Google is Tired of Needlessly Paginated Content

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Google just announced that it will now do its best to lead searchers directly to the single-page version of the online content it indexes instead of the paginated versions of the same content. Whenever an obvious “view-all” version of the text is available, Google will now link to that instead of the long series of pages that many publishers would likely prefer Google to link to.

Paginating content helps publishers to serve more ads to their readers, but they are without doubt a major annoyance for most web surfers. According to Google, however, its users testing has shown “that searchers much prefer the view-all, single-page version of content over a component page containing only a portion of the same information with arbitrary page breaks (which cause the user to click “next” and load another URL).”Screen shot 2011-09-14 at 10.54

While Google is also making it easier for publishers to indicate how the multiple parts of a paginated story belong together and will surface these if publishers so prefer, the company notes that users “generally prefer the view-all option in search results.” The exception, though, are extremely large view-all pages that take a long time to load and hence result in increased latency.

Google, which has always put a premium on speed, notes that webmasters can take some easy steps to avoid having their view-all pages appear in its index (just don’t use a rel=”canonical” link to point to the view-all page and use the new rel=”next” and rel=”prev” attributes to link to individual pages in a series).

I can’t imagine that most publishers are very happy with this move. On the other hand, this will hopefully put an end to the unnecessary pagination that has become a major annoyance on many sites today. While it may artificially pump up pageviews, it clearly doesn’t lead to higher satisfaction among readers.

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5:36 am


More Confusion: Steve Jobs Says In-App Subscription Rules Only Apply to "Publishing Apps"

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While Apple’s penchant for secrecy contributes to its mystique, it is also responsible for a kind of 21st century Kremlinology where every one of Steve Jobs’ words is carefully analyzed for hidden meanings. At times, Jobs will bypass the regular PR channels and respond to email himself. Generally, these emails clear the air when there is some confusion and with regards to Apple’s new in-app subscription program, there seems to be plenty of that going around. Just a few days ago, Apple denied an iPhone app from time-shifted reading service Readability because it offered a third-party subscription service without offering Apple’s own service at the same time – a restriction of Apple’s in-app subscription program that ensures that Apple will get a 30% cut of all subscriptions.

This was the first real test of how Apple would react to an app that wasn’t a magazine, newspaper or music service with a subscription feature. The app, of course, was quickly denied for violating Apple’s guidelines. Indeed, as John Gruber points out, it’s hard to argue that Readability does not offer a publishing service (Gruber argues that “Readability needs Apple to publish an app in the App Store. Apple doesn’t need Readability.”)

Steve & Apple Inc.

Image by marcopako  via Flickr

After this episode, a curious developer asked Steve Jobs to clarify the rules, to which Jobs replied:

“We created subscriptions for publishing apps, not SaaS apps.”

That, of course, is great to hear, but as TechCrunch’s Erick Schonfeld rightly asks, what exactly is Jobs’ definition of a “publishing app?” Schonfeld also notes that Apple’s own guidelines currently say any app that offers subscriptions for “content, functionality, or services in an app” must offer users the ability to subscribe through Apple’s own system. But these new rules – if indeed they are new rules – leave it unclear where exactly the boundary between publishing and other apps is. Does publishing only refer to text-heavy apps? What about music apps? Photo services? Do Netflix, MOG, Rdio meet Apple’s definition of a publisher? Does Flipboard? Is an app that is essentially just a gateway to content a “publishing app”?

As I said last week, I think Apple’s in-app subscription rules go a few steps too far. I hope today’s email from Jobs is a sign that Apple is reconsidering its rules and plans to loosen its restrictions.



9:39 am


Google Counters Apple's In-App Subscriptions with Cheaper, More Flexible Solution

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Google just announced its new content payment system One Pass that will give publishers a very flexible and affordable option for charging their readers for access to their content. With One Pass, publishers can charge readers on the Web and in mobile apps for subscriptions, metered access, day passes, single articles and “freemium” content. Publishers will also be able to offer free online and mobile subscriptions to existing customers. Payments are handled through Google Checkout, which means Google will take a 2 to 3% cut plus $0.30 from all transactions (percentages depend on monthly sales volume).

Yesterday, I criticized Apple for looking very greedy by charging publishers a flat fee of 30% for all subscriptions. Google  clearly timed its launch as a reaction to this and offers publishers far more flexibility than Apple’s siloed program.

Google’s announcement today feels somewhat rushed given that the One Pass website isn’t fully functional yet. It was clearly in the making for a long time, though. It’s worth noting that while Apple faced strong opposition against its plan from European publishers, Google managed to garner the support of some of Europe’s largest publishers. Among the launch partners are the German Axel Springer AG and publications like Stern (published by Bertelsman subsidiary Gruner + Jahr) and the Burda/MSN cooperation Focus Online. In addition, Google also confirmed Media General (U.S.), NouvelObs (France), Bonnier’s Popular Science (U.S.), Prisa (Spain) and Rust Communications (U.S. regional publisher) as partners.

Google promises that the new system will be “simple to set up, simple to manage and simple for readers.” For now, though, we have to take Google’s word for this, as the system is not live yet. Interestingly, Google also notes that One Pass will allow users to access their content anywhere with just one login. We assume Google forgot to mention that this does not include iOS apps.

p.s. I can only assume Google gets to use the One Pass name because Continental Airline’s frequent flier program will soon be phased out in favor of United’s Mileage Plus program.



9:35 am