Wildcard, which launched in late 2014 as a way to browse the Web as cards instead of webpages, is launching version two of its app today and it looks very different (in a good way).
The original vision was a type of browser that presented data as cards, to help users decipher the information that mattered in a meaningful way. Today’s update changes that focus to hone in on news and nothing more.
It’s an attractive update that I’ve been using for the last few days and presents the news in a very readable way. It’s very simple right now, with a home screen that presents relevant news curated by a combination of human and machine curated techniques.
The coolest part of the new Wildcard is that each story surfaces a variety of different content to tell the story. To tell the news of Google’s Alphabet announcement, Wildcard showed me great tweets with commentary (and a few good jokes), relevant posts and the original story.
The service presents news in a coherent way that even Twitter hasn’t pulled off yet — though Project Lightning is expected to debut with this functionality.
What got me wondering, is why the pivot into news when the original concept obviously had a lot more functionality including purchasing of goods and other content
I talked with Wildcard CEO Jordan Cooper about it over email. He told me that they had a proof of concept but found that “people didn’t buy anything.” Instead, the team discovered people read, watched videos and viewed images, so “doubled down on news and media.”
I asked Cooper if he sees the app as similar to Circa, which recently shut down due to financial difficulties, and he said it’s “not really similar” because “[Wildcard] doesn’t write articles […] and doesn’t plan to.”
Instead, Wildcard is looking at the “next 300 million people who aren’t on Twitter yet but should be enjoying continually updated news.”
How about Facebook Instant Articles and Apple News? Well, Cooper says that Wildcard thinks users can do better than the “small set of news that Facebook’s algorithm decides is appropriate for you.”
Even though there are a number of great news apps out there, Cooper thinks Wildcard can do well by applying a high level of design and technology on making it more consumable.
Wildcard’s bet is the results will speak for themselves, and it might expand into wider categories again in the future if that proves true.
I like the updated app, which adds a level of depth to news that I haven’t seen elsewhere, though to win me over from my favorite news app — BuzzFeed News — Wildcard will need timely push notifications to keep me coming back.
➤ Wildcard 2.0 [App Store]
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