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Microsoft just launched an iOS news app for some reason

News Pro aims to help you keep tabs on stories related to your job.


News apps aren't anything new these days, but that's not stopping Microsoft from taking a shot. News Pro for iPhone and the web comes fresh out of the oven from Microsoft Garage, the company's experimental project group. Its goal? To make it easy for you to follow work-related news using suggestions from Bing. That, at least, gives News Pro a different spin than more general news apps like Flipboard and Feedly. But from some brief testing, it still feels pretty familiar.

Gallery: Microsoft News Pro | 6 Photos

After snagging News Pro from the App Store, you're prompted to authenticate with LinkedIn or Facebook. I went the LinkedIn route, which holds most of my professional connections, and logged in without any trouble. The app is made up of three main sections: A Home tab that lists popular stories; an Explore tab for choosing new topics to follow; and a simple profile tab.

On the surface, News Pro doesn't look too different than most other news apps. I was also unimpressed with its initial roundup of top stories, which included some commentary on Facebook's upcoming earnings and news about Indiegogo's CEO stepping down. Beyond that were several articles that weren't of much interest. Nothing about Sony's surprising decision to create a PlayStation-only company was listed, even though it's one of today's most intriguing stories. It's unclear how, exactly News Pro is choosing which stories to display, but I'd imagine it's partially based on the stories your friends are sharing.

When you click into a story from the Home tab, you're sent right to a normal web page. You can also choose to load a stripped-down "Speedy" version of the page, similar to what you'd get from a bookmarking tool like Pocket or Instapaper. At the bottom of every article are buttons to comment and "Like" an article, as well as your typical sharing options.

While most news app try to simplify the process of choosing which news to follow, News Pro gives you extensive options. In its Explore tab, you can choose from a large list of industries, companies, skills and products to follow. There's also a "Pilot" mode that lists some recommended topics to follow. I was both impressed and overwhelmed with News Pro's customization capabilities. I'm sure some users would love tweaking how, exactly, their news appears. Personally, the list of options made my eyes glaze over.

I suppose it was inevitable that Microsoft would jump into the news app fray, but I wish it tried a bit harder to make something different. Apple News, on the other hand, launched with a strong sense of design, plenty of media partners, and a decent selection of features. Sure, it also did pretty much the same thing as other news apps, but you could see why iOS users could actually do with it. At this point, I'm not sure why anyone would use News Pro.

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