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Trimit reads, simplifies, and condenses web content for social networks


Trimit is a new app that promises to automatically summarize text. The idea is this: You enter a URL, trimit ingests the web page you pointed to, and then it spits back a condensed version at the length you specify.

TUAW had a chance to take an early peek at this app, which is due to launch soon on the App Store. So how did it measure up? All in all, I was impressed by its looks, but not by its functionality.

Trimit is visually lovely. But that loveliness has not been designed around a solid user experience. I did eventually get the hang of using the application, but given the number of steps it took to make things happen, I felt that the app would benefit from hiring a usability designer.

Here are the steps you need to take for the most common use case:

  1. In Safari, find a URL you want to work with and copy it to the system clipboard. The application does not offer a built-in web browser.
  2. Tap the link button (it's in the center of the screen, one icon over from the left, looks like a two-link chain).
  3. Paste the URL into the "import text source from url:" field.
  4. Tap Go and wait. Trimit extracts the content text from the page.
  5. Tap on settings. This is the leftmost icon in the middle of the screen. Once tapped, it becomes a keyboard icon. You'll need to use this after picking your destination.
  6. Select a destination, like Twitter (which is the top-left of the options). A teeny tiny checkmark appears next to the choice. I could figure out Twitter at a glance, and "f" is probably facebook, but the other options may leave you guessing.
  7. After tapping on the destination, once again tap on it, but this time tap and hold until the iPhone vibrates. A pop-up appears. Choose whether you want to compress vowels and/or add abbreviations.
  8. Tap anywhere but on the destination again. (It took me forever to realize you could not dismiss the pop-up by re-tapping.)
  9. Tap on the keyboard icon to leave the destination settings mode.
  10. Shake the iPhone strongly. A gentle shake will not do. And *only* shake in the right mode, which seems to be compose mode or something like that, after destination picking. You'll be shaking your arms off otherwise. Honestly, I'm not entirely sure why some massive shakes would work sometimes and others wouldn't.
  11. Wait for trimit to compress your message.
  12. If needed, further edit the message by hand (so you can add a'd source to the summary, for instance).
  13. Tap the send button at the top-right corner of the screen. It does not look like a button, just like an arrow, but it is a button. (Other on-screen buttons have shadow effects to show they are tappable buttons that invite interaction.)
  14. Select how you want to send the message, e.g., "Twitter it" or "Facebook it" (their phrasing). While these items do explain what each icon means, those same explanations should have been on the destination chooser and should follow the same order. They aren't and they don't.
  15. Enter credentials, authorize the application, and send.
  16. Tap the keyboard to re-enable the link button.
  17. Pull down to clear the previous text (otherwise the app will append new material, not replace it) and confirm your deletion.

I love the idea of trimit, but the app itself is a big ol' mess. With this high degree of summarizing, not being able to include a source link is incomprehensible. What's more, people seem to do a much better job of summarizing the cool web pages they just read, whether using a basic tweet test or allowing more lax summaries.

For example, consider this Auntie TUAW post. Most people would tweet it like this: "iOS devices are no replacement for Wacom tablets" 70 characters or so. How does trimit summarize the same material?

I am looking for an iPad app that allows it 2 function as a graphics tablet, similar 2 something like a Wacom tablet.

No source link, and very little context. Here's another go. Website io9 seemed to like Sunday's True Blood season premiere. What does trimit have to say about their write-up?

Con: Sookie is pized that Jason had the audacity 2 sell her (her grandmother's) house, after she's been mizing for over a year.

Honestly, do you really want to tweet that out? As if you had written it?

I found trimit more concept than execution. I didn't like the "shake to summarize" -- don't build your apps around shake gestures, people -- I wasn't impressed by the summaries, and I found the user interaction crippling.

Trimit is an app that should have soared. It is a great concept, but the app doesn't deliver on execution. Trimit will be available on App Store for US$0.99 (introductory price), moving to $4.99 once the initial sale concludes.

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