15-Year-Old Creates Genius App For Skimming Documents

Tanay TandonTanay Tandon, the 15-year-old creator of a new summarizing app called Clipped.

Photo: usc.edu

Tanay Tandon is only fifteen, but he recently released a brilliant-sounding, patent-pending app for his high school debate team called Clipped.He should forget the debate team.

Once perfected, Clipped is an app the world will be excited to get its hands on.

Clipped was released on December 29th during Tandon’s winter break. It uses technology to scan articles for the most important information. Then it turns the articles into bullet points.

You can imagine how beneficial an auto bullet point generator would be for students. It could eliminate the need to read text books or buy highlighters altogether. It’d also be good for anyone reading a lengthy article from a tablet or smart phone.

Clipped sounds like buzzy new startups Summly or Circa, but better because it’s powered by technology instead of editors.

Unfortunately, the current version falls a little flat. It works best for one to two page, information-packed articles. It’s not beneficial for opinion articles, but Tandon says he’s working to improve that.

Although it has a four-star rating in the App Store, it’s received mixed reviews.

“Disappointment abounds,” one person wrote. “The predictive model is interesting but it can be limiting. In the case of Clipped, it’s EXTRA limiting because it requires connecting to your own Facebook or Twitter account.”

Another wrote, “Interesting idea, first of a kind app. The home screen gives a simple overview of the current news, so it is quite easy to stay updated. The search bar is helpful because I can find articles about whatever I want, and the news is up to date. Overall, excellent app with a lot of potential.”

To use Clipped, which is free in the App Store, you have to login with either Twitter or Facebook. It doesn’t pull in all articles that are circulating in your feed, but the search bar works fine. We were able to pull up specific Business Insider articles accurately in no time at all.

We tested Clipped with a long, fact-filled Business Insider article we wrote a few weeks ago on a startup called Chromatik.

The experience was just so-so. Clipped pulled the article into three bullet points. Unfortunately it missed the main point of the article, which was that there’s heavy investor interest in Chromatik. Instead, it pulled out information on the founder, Matt Sandler, all taken from the first few paragraphs of the two-page story.

Tandon knows his app has flaws, and he tells Fast Company he’s working to fix them. After all, it’s still early and the 15-year-old is juggling a lot.

Tandon first wrote the algorithm for Clipped last year. He was tired of sifting through evidence for his debate team, which took a lot of time to consume. So he created a way to make the articles more concise and easier to skim. He tells Fast Company that he spent 3-4 hours working on Clipped after school, and between 6 and 7 hours per day on it in the weeks leading up to launch.

He’s been so busy with Clipped, he hasn’t had time to get his Learner’s Permit. “I haven’t started looking into that,” he tells Fast Company. “I probably should. This summer I’ll put some time into that.”

Here’s the original Chromatik article on Business Insider.

And here’s a screenshot of Clipped’s summary.

Chromatik Clipped

Here are a few other screenshots of the app in action. The welcome screen:


The news feed and search bar:


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