The Chrome extension Newsbot made the rounds on Product Hunt earlier today and I decided to take it for a spin.
It promises to find related news from a short list of popular -- but not necessarily always the best -- sources. Sources include magazines like the New York Times or The Guardian, blogs like The Verge or Ars Technica, company blogs like the official Google Blog, and a selection of other resources including Hacker News, Adweek and Fast Company.
The extension adds an icon to the main toolbar of the Chrome browser that highlights the options it provides. A click displays options to retrieve five news articles or to follow the story. If you like to use the keyboard instead, you may use Ctrl-Shift-5 to get the suggestions.
You may also right-click on highlighted text and select "send to newsbot" to get recommendations this way.
Please note that you need to highlight enough words on a page for this to work. If you have not selected anything the button does nothing, and if you have not selected enough words (the limit appears to be 25), then you will get an error message instead.
It feels strange that the limit is this high. If you want to retrieve news articles about the recent Firefox 39 release for instance, you cannot just highlight Firefox 39 to do so. Instead, you have to select more -- if that many are available on the page -- to retrieve the information.
The five articles retrieved are displayed as notifications. Each with a thumbnail, the title and publication.
A click opens the publication in a new tab in the browser.
The follow option becomes available when you verify an email address. All followed topics are highlighted by the extension, and there is even an RSS option to follow stories this way.
The extension and service works well, and you may find it useful if you read at least one publication regularly that it uses as a source. The RSS option seems handy as well.
I have two issues with it right now. First, the source limitation. While it may work well for general "tech" news, most sources don't provide specialized information.
For instance, while some publications have posted an article about the recent Firefox 39 release, they keep information general and seem to rephrase the release notes more than anything else.
The second issue that I have is that you cannot select a single word or phrase to retrieve news about it. The extension would not allow me to select Firefox 39 to get related articles displayed.
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