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Summly App for iPhone Saves Search Time

Updated on March 29, 2012

Nick D'Aloisio and Summly test new iPhone App

Now a generation of young people are growing up not remembering a time without Facebook, Twitter, and mobile information access, we can expect the digital information age to speed up even more. The more easily we access information, the longer it takes us to sort it all, and we still only have 24 hours a day and many things to do besides watch the computer screen. Does it ever make you want to throw the device through the window and perhaps even long for the old days of pens, papers, typewriters, erasable bond paper and carbon copies?

But wait! We don't need to be Luddites to find more time for quiet downtime to meditate, muse, imagine, or pursue activities that really increase productivity and quality of life.

in his bedroom at home in South London, 16-year-old Nick D’Aloisio has come up with a solution that thousands of people already love. His Summly iPhone app almost instantly condenses content of web pages and search results into simple, three or four paragraph summaries. Download Summly app here.

Download Summly iPhone App free from iTunes and see for yourself how it quickly summarizes long articles in a few paragraphs you can skim easily in seconds for gist and relevance.   Save your time.
Download Summly iPhone App free from iTunes and see for yourself how it quickly summarizes long articles in a few paragraphs you can skim easily in seconds for gist and relevance. Save your time. | Source

His idea for Summly iPhone app came while reviewing for a history test last June, 2011, when he noticed how long he was spending with articles that came up in search engine results Google or Safari searches. This was distracting, because often the sites were long, or in fact interesting, but not the main point, so with an eye to his deadline, he knew he was wasting time.

He had some experience designing apps from playing around with his Macbook, which he had received at age nine. His earlier experiments developed apps to share music and interpret moods on Facebook posts, which taught him the technical tools he needed to work with algorithms, the basis for his current idea. In a September, 2011 interview with Forbes staff writer Parmy Olsen, Nick D’Aloisio explains how his linguistic experience from studying Mandarin and French in high school gave him the sense of how to use keywords to summarize text and set parameters on language. Building on that, he used technical information culled from Apple’s SDK, and from books like Steven Kochan’s Programming in Objective C, to learn programming basics, and Erica Sadun’s iPhone Developer’s Cookbook, to understand how to work with the iPhone interface. From this course of independent research, he developed an algorithm that uses a method of genetic programming to “train” itself to summarize text like the way a human language speaker would. This was the first iteration of his app, which he called Trimit.

Six months ago, his earlier app TrimIt, the first version of Summly, had 100,000 downloads, reports journalist Om Malik in his Dec 13 interview with D’Aloisio . TrimIt clearly found a niche with people who, like D’Aloisio, agree that current information searches are inefficient time-wasters and foes of productivity. These results had been noticed by Li Ka-Shing, Hong Kong billionaire and one of the world’s wealthiest people. Ka-Shing controls private equity investment firm Horizon Ventures, which had previously invested in Skype, Facebook, Spotify and Waze.

Horizon Ventures invested $250,000 seed capital in his app and was up and running.

It is available from iTunes to download for free onto your IPhone. Its current design can summarize search engine results, or users can cut and paste a URL from Twitter or other social media function, then ask for a summary. It works not only on content in English, but also in many other languages.

Summly search engine simplifies web content

Nick D'Aloisio is 16 years old and still working hard in high school. This articulate, mannerly youth has many life interests in sports, social life and his academic work, apart from his computer interests. His parents are a lawyer and an investment banker and the family lives in South London.

He is taking a leave from school in January 2012 to meet with backers in San Francisco, work on the app to refine and develop it further. In a BBC Interview with Jane Wakefield he suggests Summly’s ability to quickly distill information has potential for simplifying information-sharing on Twitter and Facebook, as well as for summarizing e-books and emails (Wakefield, 2011). It can condense reference pages, news articles and reviews and is targeted for those of us with pressured schedules who get our news in five minute bullets in breaks between other duties.

The Summly app in less than a minute converts the longer texts into three or five short paragraphs like bullet points. Unlike Google Instant Preview, which offers an image of the page, the Summly app gives a summarized content preview so researchers can decide which sites or news stories are worth the time it takes to turn for more details to the original site. Despite Summly's convenience, there are some legitimate concerns that its process may involve unfair and uncompensated use of other web writers' content. Publishers and webmasters who suspect there may be Digital Millenium Copyright Act infringements here and wish to protect their content from applications like Summly that profit from other writer's work and may result in loss of traffic to sites can learn more about's incipient Summly action group for publishers.

Summly launched in mid-December and in the first week was downloaded 30,000 times. At last, here may be a practical way to use artificial intelligence to manage information overload, and leave the humans time to slowly eat, sleep, play and converse with each other again.

How Useful is Summly for you?

Have you downloaded Summly?

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How often do you use Summly?

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Does Summly save you time in your web searches?

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    • Judi Bee profile image

      Judi Brown 

      5 years ago from UK

      Never heard of it before - will check it out, looks useful. What a clever lad!

    • Just Ask Susan profile image

      Susan Zutautas 

      5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      After reading your hub I had to download Summly and see it for myself. Just browsing around the app it looks to be something I will use everyday. Thanks for bringing this to my attention.

    • wilderness profile image

      Dan Harmon 

      5 years ago from Boise, Idaho

      Interesting. I hadn't heard of this, but it sounds most useful.

      Off to download Summly; Thanks!

    • Janis Goad profile imageAUTHOR

      Janis Goad 

      6 years ago

      Thank you for visiting me on HubPages, Anjili! Do you use Summli very often yourself?

    • Anjili profile image


      6 years ago from planet earth, a humanoid

      The app can save much more time if many users engage it in their search for information. Voted up and useful

    • Janis Goad profile imageAUTHOR

      Janis Goad 

      6 years ago

      You're right, not every student is this interested and motivated, but every so often we get one who really stands out. The thing is, as teachers we are planting seeds and we don't always get to see the real effect we have had on the lives of who were once our students. Sometimes the teacher's echo in the student's life lasts beyond the relationship.

    • nifwlseirff profile image

      Kymberly Fergusson 

      6 years ago from Villingen Schwenningen, Germany

      A useful app from a brilliant student - if only my programming students had been so interested and motivated! An inspiring hub - thank you!

    • Janis Goad profile imageAUTHOR

      Janis Goad 

      6 years ago

      Thank you for your comments. I think this app is useful, especially for certain kinds of research.

      I think it is thrilling that he had an idea of how to solve his own problem, and thought how it would be useful to others as well. It got picked up by investors and marketers, and now he has a business with potentially a lot of money. He isn't even directly interested in tech stuff as a career at this point--more interested in philosophy. Nick is still young.

      It goes to show that following our hearts, interests and passions takes us to a good place.

    • themespotter profile image


      6 years ago from U.S.A.

      Sounds like a useful app. Thanks for the info.

    • FalconSays profile image

      Karen S Falcon 

      6 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      "Kids these days." Na, really, seems like another awesome invention by a very clever young person! Kudos! And thank you for bringing this to our attention.

    • Portamenteff profile image


      6 years ago from Western Colorado, USA

      Sounds like a handy app.


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