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Wibbitz is a fresh way to look at the news on your iPhone

Mel Martin

Wibbitz is a clever, free iOS app that grabs the latest news, reads it to you and the quickly displays related images, like people who were mentioned, maps or other news service pictures that are generally relevant.

When you first start the app, choose the type of news you want, like political, tech, sports or business. All the news I saw was sourced from Reuters, which is a good, reliable news service.

The voices are computer-generated, of course. Headlines are read in a generic female voice with a Midwestern US accent. If you swipe up on a headline to get the whole story, the voice switches to a female with a British accent. Which is weird. There is no way to control the voices you get, or the speed of the reading.

Gallery: Wibbitz | 5 Photos

In general, the app does a good job of matching images to the story being read. It's not perfect, but I only saw a few misses. Its main weakness is that it is limited when used in a hands-off fashion. If you want more on a story, you have to intervene. The app does read one news section and then goes on to the next section. The news selection is not very granular, so in sports, you'll get a lot of overseas sports you may not be interested in if you are a US resident. If you are reading from outside of the US, there will be probably too much US content. Some customization would be most welcome.

Wibbitz is a great beginning, but basically needs more options for the user so it would be more useful in a hands-off mode. Winston is a similar app. It also uses Reuters, but includes other news sources as well. Winston also includes some pictures, but they are not as relevant as the images Wibbitz pulls up. Another iOS app, Earl, is interesting but full use requires a paid subscription.

If you want a good idea of what Wibbitz can do, they have a video feed that will show you what to expect.

Wibbitz is worth a look. If I could specify more detail about what I get, and if it would run hands-off without having to swipe a story for more detail, I would like it even more. Wibbitz is optimized for the iPhone 5 and requires iOS 6. It also runs fine under iOS 7 beta 2.

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