Where's the good news?

Updated: Jul 20, 2019, 08:18 IST | Dalreen Ramos

We got a media student to try out a new app that curates interesting reads based on AI with a non-sensationalised approach. Here's how it fared

Where's the good news?
Gem is only available on Apple devices as of now. Pic Courtesy /Gem

Think of us as your smartest friend." The first line of Gem's description in the App Store really gets one thinking about several questions. You could contemplate on a scale of 'how many smart friends do I have?' to 'Am I not smart enough?' But leaving the self-examination aside, here's an app that is modeled after your own thinking — or so, it claims. Gem — true news, launched on iOS platforms last week, and is developed by Henry Boldizsar, who also worked for the meditation app Calm. So, who better to try this out that someone who is tested on the basis of keeping up with the news? We invite media student, 23-year-old Anuradha Nagar to give it a workout."

First impressions

Anuradha Nagar
Anuradha Nagar

Unlike other news applications available, this one is designed to bring you reads that you find interesting rather than what people you follow on social media do. Nagar, currently studying at SCMSophia, has a couple of other such apps on a phone — one of a daily newspaper and an application that presents news in 60 words. Her journey to trying out Gem kicks off smoothly as you only need an email address and password to sign up, as opposed to using your social media accounts to log in.

Gem app

The first thing Nagar says is, "I'm glued to the app," proceeding to elaborate on its features. "It lets you choose from over 100 categories ranging from poetry and writing to science and technology. I read about Oscar Wilde's handwritten edits and a biographical piece on Walt Whitman. When I tapped on travel as one of my interests, I got to read articles on compression socks and lenses for photography. And as someone about to buy a DSLR for a paper, I found it to be quite helpful," she shares. Surely, these things can be Googled, and having a range of categories to look up news isn't new, but Gem differentiates itself with three parameters — newness, popularity and your history. These can be controlled via the adjustable bars. If you increase the newness, for example, more recent articles appear on your feed. There's also an option for bookmarking and no distraction via ads. But you can unlock more suggestions by inviting a friend.

Overall verdict

Gem app 2
The app allows you to select from over 100 interests and also has adjustable controls based on newness, your history and popularity

One of Gem's limitations is the fact that it hasn't launched on Android yet. There's also no Indian sources for India-related news. Entering the country's name on the search tab brings up one article on Narendra Modi by an American website, which from a student's perspective is definitely a setback. Many articles are from Medium — which gives it a blog-ish, and not a newsy view. But that, in a way, is refreshing for Nagar. "I wasn't someone who used to read much. So, for those who are just taking up reading, Gem really gets one interested — even if you aren't pursuing journalism."

News graph

Log on to exploregem.com

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