News.me launched today, from the Bit.ly and Betaworks team.
Before you say "not another iPad news reader", News.me is different. First, it uses the data exhaust from the bit.ly service. In other words, News.me can filter your stream by applying a "page-rank-like" score (called "bit-rank", naturally) applying social relevance to your reading.
Bit-rank alone would separate News.me from Flipboard, Pulse and Zite, but they've added a few other really cool features that make it even more compelling.
See what others are reading
Key to News.me is the ability to follow individuals and see what they are reading. When you first login to News.me it surfaces other News.me users among the people you follow on Twitter. It allows you to then follow them (and other suggested users) on News.me. Unlike Twitter, where you're following only what they choose to share, with News.me you can follow what they're reading. If I want to see what Fred Wilson has read today, I can instantly see it (glad to see that Fred was reading the same Onion article that I was this morning).
In order to read what a specific user has read, you'll need to select their Twitter icon from the top menu. This may suggest that users will want to pick easily identifiable icons and not change them frequently. Those in the tech community will easily identify at least 10 of the dozen images below, but might have a tough time with the one on the far right (it's Clay Shirky).
What came as a surprise to me was how News.me was born. It sprung from a partnership between the New York Times and Bitly, as described in this John Borthwick post. It's great to see the NYT team being so creative AND realizing that they were not the best ones to actually build the app, eventually selling the concept to Betaworks for a stake in Bitly.
News.me is a paid service ($0.99 per week with a free 7-day trial) and licenses content from more than two dozen news providers. Since bit-rank is computed by clicks on bitly links, News.me serves as an inducement for these publishers to embrace bitly for link shortening on their core news sites. It's a smart way to increase adoption of the core product.
It will take a few weeks for me to see how News.me fits into my news flow, but at first glance it seems likely to take a key spot. Download your copy at the app store.