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Youngster backed by Yoko Ono and Stephen Fry launches 'Summly'

Good lord, scraping news content - that's a new one!

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A 17-year-old Londoner has launched a new app that summarises news stories for smartphones after getting over $1m in funding.

The Summly app started out life as TrimIt, getting 100,000 downloads last year before private equity firm Horizons Ventures spotted it. The firm, run by Li Ka-Shing - the eleventh wealthiest person in the world - sank $250,000 into the then 16-year-old's app.

The app is now advised and/or funded by celebs like Ashton Kutcher, Yoko Ono and Stephen Fry, and tech folk like Joanna Shields and Mark Pincus.

Nick D'Aloisio came up with the idea for Summly while trying to research for his upcoming exams, according to the app's website.

"I was using the Internet to find more information about a particular subject, and was finding that I kept clicking through to websites that in the end didn’t have the information I needed," he wrote on the site. "I wondered why there wasn’t a better way for people to preview information before they did a deep dive."

D'Aloisio started to explore natural language processing and machine translation to come up with an evolving algorithm to summarise the news. The first iteration of this algorithm was simple extraction but it now has an in-house R&D team devoted to developing it.

The app is currently available for iDevices and provides summaries from articles and Twitter streams. The app is customisable, can be read on and offline and, naturally, lets folks share "summlies" on social networks. At the moment, it's in the top three downloaded apps in the UK and number 57 in the US. ®

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