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News.me iPad App Drops Subscriptions, Goes Free

We first covered News.me, a “social news reader” developed by Betaworks, when it first came out in April, aiming to take on other “social magazines” for the iPad like Flipboard and Zite. Unlike its competitors, News.me was based on an interesting business model: the app would let you “see” what your friends were reading, at a price. Built with Apple’s subscriptions for iOS apps, News.me allowed users to subscribe to access the app’s social-reading functionalities. From our review:

Like I said it’s difficult now to say whether News.me’s smart filtering system really works or not, but I’ve noticed a couple of interesting factors that might increase the quality of the social aggregator. For instance, you can swipe right on a story in your timeline to “mute” it and tell the app to hide it forever, or check out a “people who read this story also read” section at the bottom of popular articles. This section aggregates stories from the same source that are linked to the one you’re reading, and should provide a meaningful way to discover news that might interest you. Another feature I love is the importance News.me gave to attribution: you can tap on a writer’s name to open a popover menu that allows you see his bio and follow him on Twitter. Unlike Flipboard, News.me got attribution absolutely right.

With an update posted today, the News.me team has announced the iPad app is now completely free (no subscriptions), and the company will be run separately under Betaworks.

Over the past year, News.me has been incubated within bitly. Today, we’re pleased to announce that News.me has officially spun out of bitly into an independent company under betaworks. As I wrote earlier this year, with News.me we are seeking to rethink and reinvent the way that people discover news; I’m very excited that News.me is now set up and running as a standalone company with the resources it needs to fully pursue that vision.

The new version of News.me for iPad (1.2) doesn’t seem to introduce any new feature aside from free access without subscriptions. There’s no doubt this new model will help the app gain more readers, so we’ll make sure to check back in a few weeks to see how user adoption can contribute to News.me’s social graph. You can get the app for free on the App Store.

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