News app Taptu is adding a feature called Magic, starting with a new version of its Android app that just went live.
When you name something Magic, it has a lot to live up to. In Taptu’s case, the idea sounds pretty impressive. The app is probably best known for the ability to “DJ your news,” creating customized news streams, either from scratch or by modifying one of Taptu’s existing topic streams. With Magic, Taptu users get another layer of personalization without doing any extra work.
Instead, the new recommendations are based on reading behavior — what you read and how much time you spend reading it. If there are topics that seem to attract your interest, you’ll start seeing other stories from that topic popping up in your stream. For example, if you spend a lot of your time in the Politics stream reading about Democratic candidates, you’ll see recommendations for more stories about those candidates and fewer stories about Republicans. CEO Mitch Lazar tells me this approach will yield a much better results than personalizing by asking users to explicitly give an article a thumbs up or a thumbs down.
“We don’t think that people should have to think about it,” he says.
Lazar also says that he sees Magic as another step in the company’s overall goal, which is fighting information overload. (Taptu started out as a search company, and it’s now applying that search technology to news aggregation.) And if someone doesn’t like Magic, they can turn the feature off.