Microsoft released a new personalized news feed stream under the name “Hummingbird” earlier . The app is building on MSN/Bing News and was made available for Android and iOS and in the United States only.
The app is designed to suggest things for you to read based on what new stories you’ve clicked on previously. In other words, it’s a true echo-chamber/filter-bubble and you shouldn’t rely exclusively on a service like this for your daily news fix.
These things always interest me and I get curious about how its news recommendations were like and generally how it worked. It was clear to me that the app is a website packaged as an app, and it only took me a few seconds to find the source URL that works in any modern web browser:
The only thing that doesn’t work in the web-app version is the login system and share sheets. The app will still personalize to you based on your use even when you don’t login, however. You just can’t synchronize your preferences between devices or maintain a persistent data trail tied to one of your social logins. I consider this a bonus feature as you’ll be able to reset the recommendations by clearing your cookie for bing.com. Opening a news story opens it just like any other webpage, so you can share the link from there instead of from within the web app.
The app only work with English language content, but it’s not limited to news organizations in the United States. It happily suggested me news from both local English-language news from Norwegian news organizations, other parts of the English-speaking world, and some more controversial news sources like Reddit, Russia Today, and Breitbart News.
Data isn’t sourced exclusively from Bing News partners, but also pull in viral video content from Reddit and Facebook, and niche blogs from Medium and even seemingly random discussions from the Stack Exchange network of questions-and-answers websites.
The app is a bit confused about its own identity. It references itself interchangeably as “Helixfeed”, Bing My Mix, Bing Feed, and Microsoft Feed. The app’s reverse domain identifier (as used by the iOS App Store and Google Play Store) suggests the final name will be Microsoft Feed.