News Anchor from Conception to Completion


Published on - Product design story of News Anchor, the voice text feed reader and virtual newscaster software for Mac OS X.

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  • News Anchor from Conception to Completion

    1. 1. News Anchor From Conception to Completion Sasmito Adibowo Basil Salad Soft ware 15-Mar-2010
    2. 2. What is News Anchor Feed reader (ATOM/RSS) application. Virtual newscaster. Voice text (text-to-speech). Accessible for low-vision users. Mac OS X (10.5 and up).
    3. 3. News Anchor Screenshot
    4. 4. What this is all about News Anchor’s product design story Background Problem statement Competing products Design Decisions
    5. 5. Background The inspiring situation Foreign worker in Singapore. Renting a room (home-stay style). Doesn’t have television (space issues). Uses a laptop for almost everything.
    6. 6. Problem Keeping up with the news while juggling t wo jobs. (primary job and iPhone/Mac stuff) Watches news primarily during breakfast or commuting.
    7. 7. Potential Solutions Portable television FM Radio Video podcasts Feed (RSS) readers
    8. 8. Slight Deviation Some theory that explains the thinking process...
    9. 9. Active & Passive Media “Passive” Media “Active” Media “Pushed” by “Pull” by consumers. content providers Actively seeking Passively receiving and selecting content content. One size fits all Highly customized Ex: TV, Radio Ex: Internet Search
    10. 10. Active Media Advantages You get what you’re looking for. Higher relevancy to your interests. Disadvantages You don’t get what you’re not looking for. Searching is time-consuming.
    11. 11. Middle Ground Combining “Passive” & “Active” media You get some control over content. You don’t need to search every time. Some important and relevant content are “pushed” to you.
    12. 12. Middle Ground - Examples Podcasts (video & audio). Feed subscriptions (RSS/ATOM). Social net work chatter & “t weets” Google Buzz (?)
    13. 13. Back to Main Topic I needed a compromise bet ween “active” media and “passive” media for daily news consumption activities. “Passive” media doesn’t have many of the content I’m interested in. “Active” media takes a lot of manual effort which takes away some of my breakfast time.
    14. 14. Path to Solution - 1 of 4 Video Podcast – ABC World News by Charles Gibson (at that time) Good: pretty decent “world” news. Bad: often t wo days late and available only after 7 AM (Singapore time). Bad: often too US-centric (naturally).
    15. 15. Path to Solution - 2 of 4 Feed reading – Google Reader Good: relevant content (the way I set up my feeds). Bad: I have to click for every news article that I want to read – not convenient to read news during breakfast.
    16. 16. Path to Solution – 3 of 4 Feed reading – Times for OS X Better: Times presents a number of articles in the same screen and let me easily read most of them. Not good enough: I still have to click to move from articles to articles.
    17. 17. The Solution – 4 of 4 Something similar to the “world news webcast” (video podcast) but with customizable content. Doesn’t require a lot of clicks for day-to- day operation (other wise I risk spilling my breakfast onto my laptop). RSS/ATOM feeds are good enough as news data sources.
    18. 18. The Competitors As of second quarter 2009 NewsHawker – Sugar Maple Soft ware Noodle Reader – Sonic Amigos News At Seven – Northwestern University
    19. 19. Competitor - NewsHawker Works with NetNewsWire Simple, faceless RSS reading. Doesn’t work when I tested it.
    20. 20. Competitor - Noodle Reader Reads the weather or news articles that you’ve pasted. Sophisticated but complex user interface and requires a lot of manual intervention. Officially de-supported as of 2008
    21. 21. Competitor - News At Seven Very high-tech concept: an artificial intelligence (AI) soft ware will browse the web and present news in a talk show format. Received mainstream media coverage at the time of launch (back in 2006). University project, government funded, no “real” product for consumers as of Q2 2009.
    22. 22. Product Definition A feed reader application. User- configurable by t weaking the feeds. No AI required. Minimal intervention. Ideally like playing a podcast, only requires one or t wo clicks. Something “unique” so that it can carve a nice niche.
    23. 23. Design Decisions Follow the “News Broadcast” format. An already successful format since the dawn of television. Primarily text-to-speech with some animation. Let the user compose “channels” which are amalgamation of feed articles. Automatically generate “episodes” from those channels.
    24. 24. Platform Decision Mac OS X Passing knowledge from previous iPhone development experience. Quartz Composer – easily prototype the animation module. Text-to-speech voice “Alex” is finally good enough. All other developers are looking at the iPad – less competition. More powerful CPU compared to the iPhone or iPad.
    25. 25. Data Entities Primary entities: Feeds and Channels. Feed – an RSS feed and the articles that make up the feeds. Channel – a collection of RSS feeds that defines the setup for a presentation. Feed articles are collected and processed automatically to make channel episodes.
    26. 26. Data Diagram assigned to feed channel 0..n 0..n 1..1 1..1 contained in generated by 0..n 0..n 1..n consists of 0..1 article episode
    27. 27. Data Diagram - Explained A feed is assigned to a number of channels. Periodically the channel will take the specified number of articles from each assigned feed (as according to the channel) and make it an “episode”. The episode is the “news broadcast” as presented to the user.
    28. 28. Technical Architecture Primarily an Objective-C application. The news show display is rendered by a Quartz Composer component (via an embedded QTZ file). Multi-core ready (uses parallel threads via NSOperationQueue) Data management via Core Data with SQLite data store Universal Binary – PowerPC compatible
    29. 29. More Information Product website Company website Contact support (at) basil-salad dot com