Why the BBC News app has been revamped

By Steve Herrmann
Editor, BBC News website


Wednesday sees the launch of a major upgrade to our BBC News app for users in the UK, with a release to follow internationally in the coming months. I'm delighted to say the new version has lots of improvements, including a much wider range of content, and many new features. In effect, it's a whole new app.

The new version is available on Android (4.0 and above), iOS (7.0 and above) and in the next few days will also be available on Amazon. You can download it from the app stores or, if you already have the existing BBC News app, you can update that to get the new version. (If you don't see the update straight away, don't worry - it may take a few days to reach all users).

As explained recently by Robin Pembrooke, head of our product team, we are making changes both to the app and the BBC News website in order to make our content work better on mobile and tablet, to meet the big shift we are seeing towards mobile news consumption.

The new app has some great new features, including:

  • A wider range of stories, including BBC local news coverage from around the UK. You can choose a local area or automatically find news near you based on your location
  • Greater depth of coverage in the Top Stories section, with more links to context, analysis and related content on big stories
  • The option to personalise a new MyNews section with news topics and stories you want to follow
  • Better display of video and pictures
  • New "Most read" and "Most watched" sections

The options to personalise a MyNews section by story and topic is made possible by a system we've introduced over the past year which allows our journalists to tag all online content with key labels - words and concepts - as they create it. This means there's better information in our system about each story, video and audio asset. We can then use that data to make links between stories, issues and topics in new ways, starting with the app. There's more on the work behind this here. And here.

Media caption,
Rory Cellan-Jones tries out the new BBC News app

Along with the personalisation, of course, the Top Stories section remains, and in fact has more in it than before, so we are still providing a set of stories we see as the most important and interesting at any given moment of the day.

The original BBC News app, launched in 2010 then updated a couple of years ago, has seen long and distinguished service, with more than 40 million downloads across 200 countries. But now, with more than half our users typically accessing BBC News Online via mobile or tablet, is a good time for an upgrade which takes full advantage of today's better devices, bigger screens and faster connection speeds.

You can ask questions or leave comments on this blog post by Karolina Iwaszko our app product manager, who also explains more about the work that went into the new app, and the user testing behind it (thanks again to all who helped us). We hope you like it!