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Facebook Notify: Customizable News Alerts, Not Enough Content

Facebook is on a quest to replace all of your news apps. Just as Facebook Messenger aims to be the only app you need to chat with friends, the company's brand-new Notify service for iOS wants to be your go-to hub for catching up on news. Notify is a neat idea, though it needs to offer more content before I can safely dump my other news apps for it.

The concept behind Notify is pretty self-explanatory: you check off a list of websites ranging from entertainment to breaking news, and will receive lock-screen notifications when any of those sources post new stories. You can also see the same stream of headlines from within the app.

You can jump right into an article from Notify, with all of the same reading options you might be used to from mobile web. There's no fancy presentation here -- you're simply viewing the content from that partner's website. (We'd like to see something more akin to Facebook's Instant Articles, which emphasizes fast load times). You can share items via text, e-mail or social media, as well as move an article to your Saved tab if you'd like to read it later.

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As of this writing, Notify offers over 70 sources, ranging from Fox News and the Washington Post to GQ Magazine and Good Housekeeping. Many of these sources let you follow specific story types -- for example, you can opt to only get notifications when Billboard posts about new music, or when E! has some fresh Red Carpet report for you to gander at.

Some websites let you go even deeper; if you follow the Best New Gadgets stream from The Verge, you can choose specifically whether you want to hear about smartphones, laptops, PCs or a combination of all of them.

The ability to follow specific content types from your favorite sites is a great touch -- I just wish Notify had more of what I wanted. As someone who devours tons of gaming news on a daily basis, I was bummed to find that Polygon and The Verge were the only available content providers in that category. There seems to be wider variety if you're looking for mainstream entertainment or general news, but it would be nice to see the app strike a better balance.

Overall, Notify does a good job delivering a custom-tailored serving of news from a variety of outlets, and there's no reason not to try it out for free. The app could help consolidate your notification feed if you're already following the aforementioned websites elsewhere, but I'd personally like to see more publications hop aboard. Fortunately, based on this partner application, it looks like Facebook does too.