TLDR is for when you don't have time to read the whole article

This browser plug-in and soon-to-be smartphone app that will launch during CES 2013 automatically summarizes news stories and other articles for you.

Jason Parker
Jason Parker Senior Editor / Reviews - Software
Jason Parker has been at CNET for nearly 15 years. He is the senior editor in charge of iOS software and has become an expert reviewer of the software that runs on each new Apple device. He now spends most of his time covering Apple iOS releases and third-party apps.
2 min read
On your Web browser, the plug-in displays a pop-up box that gives you the summary of the story you're reading. Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET

LAS VEGAS--TLDR is software that summarizes Web information automatically when you don't have time to read the whole story. It's available now as a plug-in for Firefox, Chrome, and Safari, but developers Stremor say the Android and iPhone apps have been submitted to the major app stores, so you'll be able to use it on your smartphone as early as this week.

A quick demo was all it took to see how well this software works. Once you download the free plug-in for your Web browser, you simply restart and you're ready to go. The plug-in puts a small square button to the right of the Home button (in Firefox). Now, when you go to a long article on CNN for example, you can hit the button to bring up an interface to get a quick summary of the story you're looking at in plain English.

Stremor CEO Bill Irvine explained that the shortening process is akin to turning text into math. Using a technology Stremor calls Liquid Helium on the back end, the software is able to strip out excess words, sentences, and paragraphs to bring you just the most important points of the story.

Even if you want a little more info than what the short summary gives you, the plug-in has buttons for short, medium, or long versions, so you can decide how much you have time for at that particular moment. The software also has a button to search related stories if you want to get another angle on (or similar content to) the article you're reading.

In my initial look at the plug-in, TLDR performed extremely well, but it wasn't perfect. Sometimes I would get some key points of an article, but not the full story. But with most of the stories I tested it on, the summaries were pretty much spot on.

Though I have not yet seen the software on iOS or Android, I was immediately interested for when I'm reading the news during my daily commute. If the mobile versions work as well as the browser plug-ins, this free app will be a no-brainer for those who want quick summaries of long articles.

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