We're college students from Duke!

Inspiration

Confucius is the combination of Spotify music, Soundcloud, and breaking news in one package. The inspiration came from the fact that as university students, we don't have the time to constantly be looking for the best news sources. We also don’t have time to sit down and read the news diligently, especially when we are busy. Not only that, we found that with existing news applications, we were visually distracted while online, and were not able to just listen to the articles on these websites. We came up with an app that aggregates multiple news sources and translates their articles to audio, enabling users to take news with them on the go.

What it does

With one tap, the user is able to listen to any article from playlists, trending articles of the day, and different genres from top news sources, in order to give the users the latest news on the go. Unlike other news app where users have to scroll through articles to read them, Confucius allows the user to LISTEN to an article. With our hands-free news app, we give users so much more than just news. We give users the freedom to be informed while on the go.

How we built it

Confucius is composed of three primary components: WEB SCRAPER, CLOUD BACKEND, iOS USER INTERFACE.

WEB SCRAPER: In order to populate our cloud implementation backend with text articles, we had to create a web scraper using Kimono Labs technology. Written in JavaScript and Python, we were able to crawl multiple websites ranging from BBC news, The New York Times, to the Onion and National Geographic. Using Heroku, and cloud logic, we are able to automate this web scraping process to grab the latest articles at regular time intervals. That way, our cloud database is always up to date with the top most recent articles.

CLOUD BACKEND: We implemented our backend data storage with the Parse API, a cloud database implementation. Following web scraping, we interfaced this database with iOS querying methods to easily write to and write from our cloud database. Most importantly, this database enabled us to populate our front end user interface with all the most up to date articles, hottest news article playlists, etc.

iOS UI/UX: In order to take advantage of our solid backend, we had to build a front end capable of reflecting all the information in the cloud to the user in a simple and intuitive way. Every part of our UI/UX has been thought about, and we have taken validated User Interface tips from other top mobile applications. We decided that a Tab bar is the most straightforward and intuitive way to show all the pages in our application, taking only one tap to change from page to page. On each page, useful indicators enable users to intuitively navigate our application with satisfying swipe and tap gestures. .

Challenges we ran into

While we were able to complete implementing most of the features that we had designed in the beginning, we found it difficult to strike a balance between simplicity and complexity. Simplicity is always welcomed in terms of user experience; however, we felt that there were certain relatively 'complex' features that benefited the user experience. The only way to figure this out is from user feedback and we hope to keep incorporating data to maximize the user experience.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

We are most proud of the fact that we considered all aspects of a potential business when designing this application, keeping in mind that a successful app hinges on our FIT with customer demands/preferences, designing a product that customers actually WANT and that competitors have yet to MAKE.

We take pride in the fact that we have placed deep thought about the business model, and how users will interact with the application. The beauty of Confucius lies in its smooth and enjoyable UX/UI, and we're proud that we have accomplished just that.

We truly believe that users will enjoy the freedom that this application bestows on the user to be informed on the go, creating a product that other news apps simply don’t have.

What we learned

This is our first hackathon and the biggest difference was the fact that we had discussed about our ideas beforehand. Coming into Junction, we already had a clear, general idea of what we wanted to make, and as soon as we got here, we were able to utilize the available resources to implement our idea quickly. With this time advantage, we were able to concentrate more on the app design, UX, and UI, which gives our app greater leverage over competitors.

What's next for Confucius

With the basic features in place, we believe that Confucius is a differentiated product. We need to continue executing on our business model, marketing our application to potential customers in order to generate interest. Customers include those that would pay for subscription accounts with access to premium articles. In addition, we seek to generate interest in the advertising sector. With greater network effects from a growing user base, we think that we can generate revenue from advertisements in the long run.

Furthermore, we will continue differentiate our application with more features: -Provide more news sources -Enable users to crowdsource article recordings of their own voices

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