Currently only available on iOS in the US, Notify will send a notification to users whenever a participating publisher posts a story, video or other content.
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Like Twitter, this allows you to access the news in real-time, rather than just happening upon an article whenever it shows up on your feed.
However, a specific focus on notifications and a lack of a character limit gives Notify some more power over what is shared with you.
For example, you can sign up for only specific types of notifications – called stations – such as end-of-game sports updates, movie trailers, or local weather forecasts at the start of each day.
The notifications are sent right to your lock screen. Once you click on on any notification will open the link in the app’s native browser. And if you don’t have time to read now, you can save notifications to read stories later.
The app contains a variety of news categories you can sign up for. Within those categories, you can sign up for the aforementioned stations.
Alternatively, you can simply subscribe to sources (AKA publishers), and the app will even suggest stations based off information on your Facebook profile. You can then access all the latest news in a 24 hour period on an in-app feed.
The app is currently only launching with a small set of partner sources, and publishers have to contact Facebook directly to join.
That marks another big difference from Twitter; you can’t simply sign up for notifications or a feed from anyone. At the moment, Notify is limited by Facebook’s curation. Of course, Facebook proper is still around, but as Notify is a separate app, following your favorite news may not be as seamless as on Twitter.
It makes me wonder why Facebook didn’t simply integrate Notify’s functionality into the main app – particularly given the push for news with Instant Articles – but perhaps the company thought that would lead to cluttered experience.