My ideal news service
I get my daily news from a variety of sources. I have a Google News account configured with all the topics and keywords I'm interested in. I use other sites like Techmeme to keep a finger on the tech industry's pulse. I do my best to stay up with a bunch of RSS feeds (via Feedly) and several groups/keywords on Twitter. Then there's my local paper. I get it each morning and have digital access to it while I'm on the road.
It's all quite exhausting...and inefficient. I'll bet you feel the same way. I'm amazed that with today's technologies our attention is spread across so many sites and services. You'd think someone would come up with a way to marry some of them together to create a more effective solution.
Here's what I propose:
Start with Google News. It's already trolling the web, is quite configurable and has many of the features I like. It's not enough though. Why can't Google News be like Zite and learn from my reading habits? Feed me more of what I tend to read without putting me completely in an echo chamber and eliminating serendipity. Google News just seems to mindlessly find pages with the right keywords and send them my way with no logic applied.
Next, I want this service to let me pick certain times of the day where it uses the logic noted above to send me a custom document with all the news I care about. For example, I'd tell it to make this happen at 7:00 each morning and put the result both in my email inbox (as a PDF) and into a service that's better than Instapaper.
What Instapaper enhancements do I need for this? Each time the news-gathering component feeds my email inbox with a PDF it would also send the same content to an Instapaper-like service that creates a new folder for it using that day/time in the folder's name. I'd also want that to automatically be sent to my mobile device(s) so that I don't have to retrieve it. IOW, if I've got an early flight one morning I'll know my customized news will automatically be on both my phone and tablet without having to retrieve it myself. Yes, I realize my devices will have to be connected (Wifi or 4G) and I'll have to manage their connections so I won't get hit with extra fees. That's fine. Just automate the delivery so I don't have to remember to download it myself.
Lastly, this new, enhanched Instapaper-like element absolutely must have text-to-speech functionality built in. I'm not talking about some lousy robotic voice with no other capabilities. I want a very human-sounding service that also acts on my voice commands, so I can fast forward 10 seconds, skip an article, etc., just by telling it to do so. This is critical for listening while driving or working out.
This combination of services is something I would gladly pay for, maybe as much as $10 or $15 per month. Does it already exist and I've somehow missed it?