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Microsoft follows Apple, Google with news app

JASON REDMOND/AFP/Getty Images

Microsoft is rebranding its news apps on iOS and Android as "Microsoft News," as a part of a new push to house most of its news products under an AI-powered "Microsoft News" umbrella.

Why it matters: Microsoft has been experimenting with news products for years, but many have struggled to break through. Their efforts to consolidate all of their news efforts into one "News" destination more closely mimics the cross-platform strategies of Google News and Apple News.

Microsoft has attempted to rival Google News as far back as 2003, when it launched an an automated news service product called MSN Newsbot. In 2016, it launched of NewsPro, an app powered by a customized news bot called "Rove."

What it includes: The new "Microsoft News" brand will encompass news across Microsoft's properties, including its Microsoft Edge web browser, news sites like MSN.com, the News app in Windows 10, Skype, Xbox and Outlook.com, according to a statement. MSN.com will keep its name.

  • The new apps will include new personalization features, continuous reading breaking news alerts, and a dark mode for night reading.

How it works: The company says its News brand will use its "long-tested approach" of curating news via publishing partnerships, human editors, and AI. "We work with more than 1,000 premium publishers and more than 3,000 brands," the company says, citing editorial partnerships ranging from The New York Times to Fox News.

  • The mix of humans, partnerships and algorithms makes it more like Apple News than Google News, which has relied almost exclusively on algorithms

Our thought bubble: Microsoft's efforts could be bolstered by its Windows product, which reaches a significant number of desktop users.

  • At the same time, it’s unclear how many of those will be avid enough users to take up the app on other platforms, like iOS and Android where Apple and Google already have more established news apps.
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