Microsoft's Garage internal incubator has come out with a news feed on the iPhone targetting users' business information needs.
News Pro is a new app that allows users to connect their LinkedIn or Facebook accounts and get a feed of the top stories relevant to their interests and work experience. Depending on how much time people have spent elaborating what they're into on one of those networks, the initial recommendations might not be all that helpful, but users can specify more about their interests inside the app itself.
The News Pro interface is fairly bare bones: it shows a list of articles that users can scroll through, comment on, and "like," similar to other news apps. Users can either read them as they would appear on the web, or in a streamlined "Speedy mode" that strips away everything but basic text.
People who are expecting the app to be a full-featured consumer experience will be disappointed, but that's to be expected from the first release of a Garage project. Apps from Microsoft's internal ideas incubator are aimed at proving out a particular concept, or testing a hypothesis, and usually aren't as polished as the company's flagship applications.
It seems like everyone has a news app on the iPhone these days. Facebook has its Notify app for sending quick snippets of news, Google has two news apps, Twitter is trying to be a news app with its Moments feature, and Apple has its own News app that's built into the phone. Microsoft is no stranger to that ecosystem either, since it has an MSN News app, plus Bing and Cortana apps that include their own recommended news stories.
And then there's LinkedIn, which has its own Pulse news reader that's aimed at providing a similar experience to News Pro.
What will be interesting to see from the launch of this application is what Microsoft plans to do with the results of its experiments with the app. Successful experiments can go on to be key features for Microsoft's products, like the Garage app for monitoring air quality in China that turned into one of Cortana's key features in that market.