TechCrunch's Erick Schonfeld has been playing with an early version of News.me, a collaborative news application for Apple's iPad that the New York Times hopes will unseat Rupert Murdoch's The Daily, which will officially launch at a special event tomorrow morning. With the first-ever published screenshots from the application, Schonfeld walks you through the project he calls "what an iPad news app should be."

News.me is a social news reading app that presents the news that the people you follow on Twitter are reading, and filters it based on how many times those stories are shared and clicked on overall. It pulls in data from not only Twitter but also bit.ly, the betaworks company that shortens billions of shared links every month. In contrast, The Daily will produce its own articles and videos with a staff of 100 journalists. It is not clear how many social features will be included in The Daily, but the emphasis seems to be more on the original content. We'll find out more tomorrow.

News.em is still a work in progress, and new features are being added every few days. but its basic skeleton is in place. It is more along the lines of Flipboard but with a few new twists. You sign in with your Twitter account, and you can see a stream of news stories and videos being shared or retweeted by the people you follow. Instead of just seeing the links, the underlying text and images are displayed inline. Not only can you see your own Twitter news stream, but you can also see the Twitter news streams of any other News.me users who you also follow on Twitter. These people should already be familiar to you, but instead of seeing what they are Tweeting out, you get to see the news that is being recommended to them.

When you first launch News.me, you see the welcome screen below with a few tutorial hints: Tap on the people along the top dock to see what stories are appearing in their Twitter streams, tap on a story headline or excerpt to read it full screen, or you can stretch a story open inside the stream with a reverse-pinch. This reverse-pinch is one of my favorite parts of the experience. You flick to scroll through the stream, and when you find something you like, you can open it up and read it without loading a new page.

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