Tech Review: a personal newshound

yotifyinsideImagine an army of personal secretaries, assigned by you to monitor news feeds, blogs, and even shopping networks for specific keywords. That’s the idea behind Yotify.

The website allows you to create “scouts” that comb through everything from YouTube to eBay, from popular news services like the Wall Street Journal, USA Today and Reuters to blogs like TMZ.

ESPN is available for sports fans. You can even scan Craigslist for anything from housing to job postings.

Sign up is simple. I was up and running with a new account and sending out scouts in less than two minutes.

You can also invite friends through Facebook or by email. If they sign up, you can share scouts with each other, but that’s about the extent of Yotify’s networking capabilities.

The scouts themselves are easy to manage. When you click on a service (eBay, Washington Post, Perez Hilton), you get to modify the settings for that scout.

For some services, like shopping, you are asked simple questions (What are you shopping for?) which lead you to more specific choices as you narrow down what you’re looking for.

You can choose to get hourly or daily updates, and you can also choose how to receive the scouting alerts. Alerts will come as emails, text messages, or RSS feeds, based on your choice.

You can view the articles through these alerts. You can also view them by going to the Yotify website and browsing through your current scouts, which are arranged on your homepage.

It all looks pretty good. The interface is simple, and it looks pretty modern, if that makes sense. The menus are easy to manipulate.

The problems come in the limitations.

Your search is confined to the networks that Yotify provides. This is in contrast to Google Alerts , on which the Yotify premise is based (Yotify has been dubbed “Google Alert on Steroids”).

You also can’t search multiple networks at once. So if you wanted to search for “Richmond Business” in five of the news networks, you would have to create five different scouts. With Google Alerts, you scan through a huge pool of networks, giving you a much larger range of results.

In some areas, Yotify outperforms Google Alerts. It’s fantastic for the networks that it covers, but sadly, that list just isn’t that big yet. But it looks good, and it runs smoothly. It does what it’s asked to do. And it’s a great idea. For now though, it’s just a little better than average.

FinalGrade: B

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