A startup has launched what may be the most adorable news app ever.
The company, Genies, Inc., has launched the Genies app, where you can create an adorable clone of yourself that will bring you news throughout the day, and can be shared with friends on iMessage, Facebook Messenger, Instagram Direct Message, Snapchat, and SMS.
"If you ask Gen Z millennials where they get their news, nine times out of 10 they'll say they get it on Snapchat or Instagram," said Genies CEO Akash Nigam. "We're trying to exemplify that exact same type of use case."
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Here's how it works. First, you sign into the Genies app and create a Bitmoji-like animated clone of yourself. There are hundreds of skin tones, noses, eye colors, and articles of clothing to choose from, so your character will be more nuanced, and more trendy, than their Bitmoji competitors.
They're also larger than bitmojis, and while bitmojis tend to look like they belong in an old cartoon, Genies wouldn't be out of place in a Pixar movie. Their movements are smooth, their expressions incredibly lively.
Once you've created your Genie, you indicate the news outlets that you read the most often.
From then on, when you open the app every morning, you'll see a series of around 10 short videos about the news from your specified outlets, featuring your Genie.
Your Genie may hold a downward-trending stock chart if the market is crashing or camp out on Mars if Elon Musk launches a rocket. Each video also features the source headline which, if tapped, redirects to the source article online.
The videos also include space for a second Genie, so you can add a friend, or various celebrities. Trump, Obama, Emma Watson, Zac Efron, and Santa Claus are today's options.
While the idea of a Bitmoji news app may seem juvenile, the app actually employs sophisticated artificial intelligence.
The company says the app uses an AI function called a "viral throttler" to parse Twitter and determine, based on acceleration of tweet activity, which news is most likely to go viral. AI also parses each pre-viral article and creates a unique video out of millions of pre-made animations. While a human animator would need days to put together so many news videos from scratch, Nigam explained, the AI can do it in hours.
"The 49ers are likely to tweet about releasing a quarterback before talking to an ESPN reporter and letting them write the story," explained Nigam. "Our app will break news about NFL teams before ESPN does."
To tease the app's release, the company has spent the past few months creating Genies for users who reached out to them on Instagram. So far, 689,401 Genies have been, and there are 680,000 users on the waitlist.
"People love seeing themselves in the news," Nigam said. "The script is whatever happens in the world that day, but your Genie is the star of the show."