News broadcasts for people who don't want to park themselves in front of a television are being brought to you by Watchup, an app that plans to sit in front of your face through Google Glass.
Already critically acclaimed on Apple and Android smartphones and tablets, Watchup pulls videos and summaries from several news websites and creates a personalized playlist based on user-set preferences. Videos and news come from the websites of the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, CNN and several others. For now, most playlists are ad-less.
Launched in beta this week, the version for Google's smart glasses only features PBS Newshour in the United States. The overwhelming majority of the population that ignores public television's nightly news show will have to wait for the 20 or so additional options expected by the end of the year.
Adriano Farano founded Watchup about three years ago while on a Knight fellowship at Stanford University. He previously worked at news websites in Europe. Now based in Menlo Park, Calif., Farano has said he's used the Glass version of his app while making coffee in the morning. Other users, he said, have turned on Watchup on Glass while doing dishes, taking the pet out for a walk or cleaning around the house.
"I was at first skeptical about Glass -- would it be too close?" Farano said. "Then, I found myself using it while doing things for which I really needed my hands. And as an Italian, I always need my hands for something."
Watchup, which has raised $1.5 million from Microsoft, Turner Broadcasting and others, started developing for Glass even before starting to port its iPad version to iPhone. Both took two months of separate developers' time to create.
"What we really like about Glass for video is when you are watching a video on Glass, it's very intimate," Farano said. "It's the closest we can get to your eyes, and it's the mobile experience by definition because it can really move with you."
The staff of six at Watchup have positioned their app as the go-to for news videos, similar to Hulu for television shows and Netflix for films.
Farano, speaking from the Turner/Warner Bros. MediaCamp in Atlanta, said a version of Watchup for "bigger" screens will be unveiled in a few weeks with 10 more news partners.
So even though the Glass app will park videos in front of your eyes, Watchup still plans to have a version for couch potatoes.