Microsoft's experimental lab Garage is now dabbling in news aggregation, releasing the News Pro app for iOS 9 users. The release looks like an incubation project to understand the news market before building a news aggregation app to rival Apple's own version and older players such as Flipboard and SmartNews.
Like any other news aggregator and news reading app, Microsoft's News Pro has features to search and explore news. The differentiation comes from personalisation, even though that feature is available on other apps too.
Microsoft launched Garage from Office Labs in 2009. It is a platform-agnostic lab, in which engineers and employees are invited to build cross-platform (iOS or Android, not to mention Windows Mobile) apps and test it in the real world. It helps gain an understanding of market patterns, customer behaviour, and how customers adopt and perceive technology in the real world. Garage previously developed Snipp3t (pronounced "Snippet"), to follow celebrities including sports and business personalities.
News apps have seen massive growth in the last few years. Flipboard is the leader with over 100 million active users. In 11 months of 2015, it claimed users flipped over 100 billion pages on its platform. Another player, SmartNews, has over five million active users.
Apple is a relatively new player in the news arena. Its news app was launched in July 2015, replacing existing app Newsstand. It claims a user base of 40 million in less than six months. Apart from this, it is adding more exclusive content to its platform, and partnering with news publishers to provider subscriber content on its platform.