The News360 iPad App is Like Crack for this News Addict

News360 iPad AppAs long as I can remember I have always been a news addict. A habit that has been passed down from my father back in Nova Scotia. An early picture even shows me struggling to open a copy of Sports Illustrated. I would read the local newspapers front to back, gobble up every news magazine I could get my hands on.

These days of course, we have instant access to hundreds of thousands of news sources including web sites, blogs and news feeds. Having access to the web through mobile devices such as the iPhone and iPad has now taken my news addiction to a new level.

Introducing News360

On Monday, development company News360 released News360 for the Pad. News360 is a Moscow-based company dedicated to helping readers experience personalized news. They’ve used linguistic metadata analysis and algorithms to identify trends within the feeds of news sources from around the world.

Interface design was provided by Motka Design Studio.

Over a 1000 News Sources

News360 aggregates feeds from over 1000 different news sources, including CNN, Fortune, New York Times, BBC, Guardian, Wall Street Journal and many more.

The news feeds can be sorted by Stories or Sources, as well as using GPS to locate stories near you. You can see recent tweets on the story or view the story and photos from any of the news sources that it had appeared in.

Deep Dive into background material

One of the more interesting features allows you to turn on highlighted hyperlinks. These links lead you to further background information on all the key people, companies, and subjects within the story. Once you’ve absorbed the background material you’re presented with more even more focused news stories on that keyword.

Customized Feeds

Create your own customized feed by using the My Sources/My Stories feature. Simply drag and drop icons for hundreds of sources and story subjects to the top of the screen and you’re ready to go.

I Like to Look at Pictures

If you like to look at pictures you’re in luck. Simply turn your iPad on its side and you’ll be looking at a series of scrolling news photos. Tap a photo and you see a headline, tap again and you can read the story with access to the hyperlinks as mentioned above.

Sharing is Good

Stories can be shared to Facebook, Twitter, ReadItLater (my favorite), Instaper and Email. Stories can also be saved to your iPad to be accessed later.

The site takes interface design and functionality cues from such popular news apps like Pulse News Reader, Huffington Post’s News Glide and of course Flipboard. However, the GPS feature for local news and keyword hyperlinking are features that I can really appreciate and use.

OK, enough writing I need to go get my news fix.

It’s Complicated. Reuniting Ken & Barbie on Social Media

Ken and Barbie on Social MediaHonestly I had no idea that these two icons had even broken up. It turns out however, that Ken Carson and Barbie Roberts (yes, they did have last names) have been an on-and-off thing one since they first met in 1961. Things were not well at the Barbie dream house apparently. In fact, in 2004 Mattel issued a press release stating that they were going to spend some time apart, and as we all know it’s not true until the press release has been issued. According to the barbieandken.com website Barbie had actually started dating an Aussie surfer named Blaine.

Welcome Back

Now in 2011, on the 50th anniversary of the debut on the Ken doll, and after a triumphant return in Toy Story 3 he’s back and he’s looking to win Barbie’s heart again, and he’s looking to do it just in time Valentine’s Day.

Mattel has created a website at barbieandken.com where visitors are asked “Should Barbie take Ken back?”. Ken hopes that enough people say ‘Yes’ and that the Love-o-meter goes all the way to the ‘Soulmate’ status. Mattel has also created new profiles for Ken on Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare and are the inspiration behind a new reality series Genuine Ken, a Search for the Great American Boyfriend. Oh, by the way there is a new Sweet Talking Ken doll available in stores, with the striking look and physique which makes Justin Bieber look like the Incredible Hulk. (sorry Biebs)

The streams on the various platforms are a combination of promotion and cute interaction between the two characters. Ken leaves a tip on Foursquare as he reminisces about better times, “Barbie was a little afraid of heights, but I held her hand the entire time during our ferris wheel ride. A little kiss always helps calm the nerves.” Or we see Barbie tweet, “No better distraction for me during this whole @OfficialKen business than #NYFW. See you at the shows!”

Finding Barbie on Match.com

Observations

While the campaign is very clever there is one thing that pops out at me. First of all, who is this campaign aimed at? It certainly isn’t the young girls who would be playing with them. It seems to me that this is targeted at adult users of these social media platforms, which begins to make sense as these are the people that will be buying the dolls for their daughters, nieces or younger family members.

It turns out the dolls were already appearing in stores a week before Valentine’s Day in boxes emblazoned with the message ‘She Said Yes!’. It would have been fun to see coordinated events happening in stores on the Saturday morning prior to Valentine’s Day, providing discounts on the dolls to people who check in on Foursquare of Facebook Places. Encourage tweeting and Facebook status updates, as well as uploading and tagging photos from the events to their profiles on Facebook.

Seems, you can’t keep anything secret these days. Good luck Ken on sorting out the ‘It’s Complicated’ relationship status.

Update: It’s Valentine’s Day and Barbie did say Yes! To celebrate Ken and his Kentourage appeared at Toronto’s Union Station handing out pink roses in celebration of his new relationship status. The current campaign will run until March and there  is a plan for two more phases yet to go in 2011.