Thirst tweaking mobile news app amid new Twitter guidelines, still worth a look

Plenty of social and news apps will have to adjust their product based on Twitter’s much-publicized API adjustments this summer, and Thirst Lab’s social reader product is no different. But the app is still worth downloading and checking out, as it presents some nice features that will likely carry over into future versions.

Thirst iPhone news screenshotThirst, which was judged the winner of GigaOM’s Mobilize LaunchPad competition last week, had me skeptical when I first heard their pitch. At first glance, the product takes a user’s Twitter newsfeed and reorganizes the content into a more digestible format. That makes that content easier to read, but the app also attempts to re-create a user’s timeline, which is questionable under Twitter’s “consistent Twitter experience”  guidelines.

Twitter’s crackdown on use of its API has been all over the news recently, and it’s hard to imagine that many social readers that dramatically re-organize and present tweets will survive. Twitter has certainly made clear that client apps, or apps that re-created timelines are not welcome.

But in talking further with Thirst CEO Anuj Verma and checking out the app, it seems like there are several intriguing features that will remain while the company works to launch a new version. The company only launched an iPad app in May and an iPhone version in August, and Verma said version two should be out within a few months.

Verma said the company will be re-working the app to get rid of the timeline and mentions tabs, and will focus instead on the news discovery feature, which Verma said has been more popular. The company will also be looking to add more sources of news and information to a user’s stream, which is currently limited to news from Twitter.

“I think obviously we’re going to broaden our scope,” he said.

One handy feature of the Thirst app is that it will show you the most popular stories since you last logged into the app — not just the most popular recently-published stories. So if you took a break from the internet for a week (that’s possible, right?) you could catch up on the news on your return without having to scroll through pages of headlines to see everything.

Otherwise, the app looks pretty similar to Zite or other social readers. But it does have a handy layout on the iPhone and it seems to do a good job aggregating news topics and giving me information I’m interested in from my Twitter feed. Whether it can maintain this value if it expands from Twitter to pulling from other sites remains to be seen, but I’ll certainly keep the app on my phone to see.