The news has been so awful for so long, who wouldn’t want to swipe left?
Swiipe is an iOS news app—from a 14-year-old founder in Ireland, no less—that lets users evaluate the news exactly as they would a profile on Bumble. Users see stories from 52 news sources and swipe left on stories they don’t want to read, swipe right to save an article for later, or tap the screen to read a story now.
It’s sort of strange to “swipe left” on a piece of news, but swiping doesn’t imply that you don’t like the news—just that you don’t really want to read about it.
“If you use Tinder, you might be used to it. But my age group might not be used to it,” founder Alex Goodison said.
Goodison always wanted to pay closer attention to everything going on in the world, but it was hard with school and extracurriculars. He looked for a way in, but Flipboard, Medium, and even Snapchat Discover all came up short.
“I would like to read the news more often, but I never found a certain app that had me coming back,” Goodison said.
That was one reason he started building the Tinder-inspired news app. Instead of relying on push alerts or scrolling through endless top stories, users interact with and make a decision about the news of the day. On Product Hunt, Goodison described his app as “a different take on viewing the headlines by a 14-year-old 📰.”
“When people get given a whole long list of text they’re not as intrigued,” he said. “My idea is to make it more fun and interactive for the person to make them read the news again.”
Goodison built the app during his 13-week summer vacation in Ireland. He just started the Irish equivalent of ninth grade, and he’s set to graduate from his secondary school in Cork County in 2021.
He started to get interested in tech because of his father, who works as a developer for a mortgage company in Dublin. In his free time, Goodison taught himself to code through free tutorials on YouTube and a few paid courses from Udemy. He could have taken some computer classes through his school, but instead he chose the enterprise competition, or business, track.
Swiipe is the fifth app he’s built, following a revision tool for national exams in Ireland, an app to locate defibrillators nationwide, a tennis scoring app, and a currency converter.
Those projects all stemmed from his own personal interests; heart disease ran in Goodison’s family, he likes tennis, and he needed a tool to study for his own exams. He wanted to build a news app, though, because of the specific coding skills it involved. This time, too, he wanted his app to appeal to people anywhere in the world, not just in Ireland.
Goodison rushed to finish his self-assigned summer project before school started up at the end of August. He uploaded the app to the App Store, where it sat quietly with barely a dozen downloads, short of Goodison’s goal of 100. Then he got on the homepage of Product Hunt, and suddenly Swiipe had been downloaded almost 1,300 times.
It’s not a ton of downloads—but it’s definitely a lot for a summer project. The app itself is appealing to users, like Goodison, who hadn’t found the news app that was quite right for them.
“People have contacted me and said this is now their daily news app,” he said.
Goodison has a few updates in the works—more choices for news sources, subscribing to stories by keyword instead of just publisher—and ideas for monetization and a social component. He can’t work full time on Swiipe now that school has started, but he still plans to work on the app—and other projects—on the weekends.
As for Goodison, he plans to move to the United States after graduating to pursue a career in tech, and he’s not too enthusiastic about taking the time to go to college.
“For the job I want to do, university isn’t famously attended,” he said.
First, there are this year’s exams—and his first app to really take off.
“There are big exams at the end of the year. I didn’t expect Swiipe to do this well,” he said. “I still have to do a lot of studying.”