Pune based company Juhu Labs, launched JuhuLive, a social news reader for Facebook, at SXSW in Austin (Texas, USA). The app allows users to read news across various genres like Politics, Business, Sports, Entertainment, based on their interests, location and likes on Facebook. It also allows users to share stories and browse through stories shared by their friends via the Facebook Ticker, News Feed, and Timeline.
How does it work? On installing the Facebook app, one is redirected to a generic app interface, which provides the top stories, aggregated from various media outlets such as the Times of India, NDTV, Hindustan Times and others.
There is a navigation bar on the top that allows users to head over to specific sections such as Business, Technology, Entertainment, Sports and an editor’s pick section which offers a curated list of stories. Interestingly, it also claims to recognize the user’s location and offers news around that specific location. For instance, it recognized we were in Bangalore and provided news around the city. Strangely, it did not offer the same feature for Delhi.
Users can also add any topics of interest or public figures to read stories related to them or view relevant YouTube Videos and tweets through an embedded Twitter search widget. All stories also have Facebook comments integrated and one can like or send any specific story to their Facebook friends.
Alternatively, users can also browse through the related stories section at the bottom. One can also view their profile to browse through their reading history or view their friends’ profiles to view their interests, reading history and their friend lists.
Apart from these, Juhu Live taps into Facebook’s new open graph API to enable users share their reading activity with their Facebook contacts through the Facebook Ticker, News Feed, and Timeline in real time. The company claims that it is the first social news service from India to partner with Facebook on Open Graph API integration.
Better sharing ? While the real time sharing may work in favor of music streaming services like Gaana* and Saavn which recently launched their own open graph Facebook apps, this approach may not work for social reading apps. For instance, we just hated the fact that the app shares every story that we click onto our timeline, marking it as a recommendation to friends, irrespective of whether we think the story is worth sharing or not. While the app does offer an option to disable sharing completely, it doesn’t allow selective sharing. Disabling sharing completely, would defeat the whole purpose of using a social news reader.
We feel that companies which offer social apps need to offer a better sharing mechanism, so as to provide complete control over sharing, to the users. Facebook had also suggested a similar practice last year, encouraging companies to develop controls within the app that enable better sharing.
* Disclosure: Indiatimes is an advertiser with MediaNama