Winston is a new and ambitious product from Colorado-based startup, Reactor Labs. It's a take on the Siri personal assistant idea that focuses on news instead of sending messages. At the heart of the app is Winston, a personable British butler that compiles a daily brief from your selected news sources and social network feeds.
When you launch Winston for the first time, you are prompted to connect to Twitter and Facebook as well as setup channels for your news. The app includes a handful of news sources that cover technology, headline news, sports, fashion and more.
Once you have configured your channels, you are ready for your first briefing. Each briefing compiles content from your various channels and presents them in a slideshow that you can watch on your iPhone or stream to your Apple TV via AirPlay. The AirPlay option is perfect for visual news feeds like fashion and sports.
You can watch the slideshow of images as Winston reads the news to you in his choppy, but charming British accent. You can swipe to jump forward or scroll back through the briefing. If you don't want all your news, you can also select an individual channel for your brief. Winston, though, isn't just a long-winded regurgitation of your news feed. The personal assistant has some intelligence and gives you a brief synopsis of your news and status updates. Winston pulls out the important information and discards most of the fluff.
I used Winston primarily to prepare briefs for me when I was driving. It was wonderful to be able to launch Winston after a day of skiing and get a quick update of what I missed while I was on the slopes. An offline caching feature made sure I received my entire news brief while driving my rural route home.
Winston launched publicly today and it's still a bit rough around the edges. There's only one voice option (British Male), and the news sources are limited to what's available in the app. Winston also sometimes struggles with status updates when it tries to summarize and misinterprets the person's post.
Nonetheless, I'm impressed by what I have seen in my time with Winston, and I look forward to the improvements the developers have planned for the future. If you enjoy following up-and-coming technology, then you should definitely add Winston to your must-watch list.
You can download Winston for free from the iOS App Store and watch the promo video below. Check it out and let us know what you think in the comments.