Breaking News near you: no longer science fiction

The new Breaking News app for iPhone/iPad is here just in time for iOS 8.  Beyond a bevy of new iOS 8 additions, it includes a groundbreaking new feature.

In a first for a mobile app, you can see news breaking near you, wherever you go.  Tap the “nearby” tab and you’ll see real-time updates posted by our editors as well as automatically-updating breaking news tweets from our local partners.

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We’ve tested the nearby feature with several road trips over the last few months, including a U.S. cross-country jaunt.  It works internationally, too.  

The range is set at 100 miles by default, which means you’ll see breaking stories within 100 miles of your location in the nearby feed.  But you can adjust the range to adapt to your geography (above right).  Tap the map icon in the nearby feed, and you’ll see a red circle around your location.  Tap the range icon, and you can move the slider from 100 miles all the way down to a single mile.  

In dense urban areas, 5 miles may be optimal, and you could see several breaking stories a day.  If you’re in a rural area, even if it’s zoomed out to 100 miles, you may not see a single update; breaking news tends to concentrate in more populated areas.  We’re already working on improvements to the feed, which you’ll see in the weeks to come. (Please let us know if you see any issues by dropping us a note.)

Our nearby feed is a natural complement to proximity alerts, which we launched earlier this year.  Just as editor alerts are triggered when big news breaks around the globe, proximity alerts trigger when big news breaks near you.   For both the nearby feed and proximity alerts to work, you’ll need to opt into sharing your location. It’s entirely anonymous — even to us — and we’re not saving or sharing your locations.  We respect your privacy.

New iOS 8 features

Our new update is optimized for two new iOS 8 capabilities: today widget and interactive notifications.  

Swipe down on your lock screen, scroll down and tap the new “edit” button.  You can add a real-time Breaking News widget (left below) that displays the latest update, latest nearby update (if you’re sharing your location) and trending topics.  It’s a quick way to get updates on what’s happening without opening the app.

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Interactive notifications (above right) enable you to react to an alert straight from the notification itself.  Just swipe a notification to the left in your lock screen.  When you receive an editor alert in iOS 8, you can add the topic to your watchlist — so you can monitor subsequent updates — or share it with a single tap.  When you receive a topic alert that you’ve already configured in your watchlist, you can share or whoa the story instantly.

We’ve also made a lot of snazzy design improvements and bug fixes, thanks to your feedback.  Keep it coming!

News partner tips

Over 300 news partners tip us with their original breaking stories over Twitter, the first and largest Twitter-based network of its kind.  Now whenever a local news partner sends a #breaking tip with a location name — that’s the key — we’ll automatically surface the tweet to people nearby, amplifying the partner’s coverage and driving more traffic to the source.  

After all, the best local news coverage comes from local news organizations, and Twitter is the best way to share it.  Breaking News boosts great local coverage to wider audiences, including people visiting a local market.  To learn more about becoming a news partner or optimizing your tweets for Breaking News, please visit here or send us a note.

(Post by @corybe)

Announcing new hires

We’re excited to announce three talented additions to the growing Breaking News team: Andy Boyle, Tricia McDermott and Alex Swan.

Alex Swan (@boldbigflank) has joined our Seattle team as a backend developer. In his spare time, he’s a mobile game developer (give Hyper Tiles a try after a couple cups of coffee), and he always enjoys a good hackathon or startup weekend.

Tricia McDermott (@Triciamcd718) is our new deputy managing editor based in NYC. She joins us from Yahoo News where she worked on social discovery, breaking news and mobile apps.  Prior to that, she was senior managing editor of CBSNews.com.

Andy Boyle (@andymboyle) is joining us as a full-stack developer from the Chicago Tribune’s news apps team.  At the Trib, Andy worked on such cool projects as the Chicagoland Sirens app.  A frequent speaker in journalism circles, Andy’s also a comedian.

Follow ‘em on Twitter and say hello!

(by @corybe)

New Android app debuts with proximity alerts, tablet-friendly design and more

We’ve just released a big update to the Breaking News Android app with a powerful feature that’s a first for a mobile app: proximity alerts.  When a big story breaks near your location, we’ll send you an alert.

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Proximity alerts are reserved for larger stories: significant earthquakes, tornadoes, evacuations, mass shootings, major fires, public health alerts and more. Our team of trusted journalists make real-time decisions on which geographic area — from as narrow as a neighborhood to wide as a country — should receive an alert.  

It works internationally, and it will follow you as you travel — an invaluable resource even if you don’t use the app for anything else. Proximity alerts also work on Android Wear out of the box, so when a big story breaks near you, your watch will warn you.

As Fast Company wrote about our new feature, “Geolocated news is going to change the news business.”

Engaging new design

The updated app also includes a new tablet-friendly design with a long list of improvements including larger inline photos and videos, infinite scroll, faster search, improved map view and easy “tab” navigation.  We created a separate “Whoa” tab for the most surprising stories, powered by our users in real time. 

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We also made it easier to monitor your favorite topics for the latest breaking news with a new “watchlist” tab — just tap the watchlist icon to add a topic to the list.  For example, here’s my watchlist (above right), which includes the 2014 elections and my hometown of Ferndale, CA.

Tap the alert icon next to a topic to turn on notifications.  In my case, I receive a push alert whenever significant news breaks about NBC (which owns Breaking News), media, Twitter, Facebook and cybersecurity.

With over 40,000 topics in the system — just search for them on the watchlist screen — you can create a powerful tool to monitor breaking news that’s important to you. Unlike Google Alerts, we notify you instantly when news breaks about a topic instead of providing a delayed list of keyword mentions.

Breaking News is the only service that tells you immediately when significant news breaks about a topic, guided by editors you can trust.

Making breaking news matter again

With so many news organizations screaming for your attention, it seems like red “breaking news” banners are a permanent fixture on TV sets and pesky push alerts are the new normal. But it doesn’t have to be that way. We even made a video about it:

The new Breaking News app is the fastest way to get the facts for the stories that matter most to you.  As always, please don’t hesitate to drop us a note with feedback, and stay tuned for more features and improvements in the weeks to come.

You can download the new Android app here — or iOS here.

(Post by @corybe)

Get Breaking News on your watch

If you’re thinking about buying an Android Wear watch, your Breaking News app will pair with it perfectly out of the box.

We’ve been playing with the LG G watch, which just shipped earlier this month. After pairing it with an Android phone running the Breaking News app, all our favorite custom alerts appear without any additional setup.

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When an alert comes in, just glance and you’re done. Our short alerts are extremely portable — no need to open it on your phone unless you’re digging for more details. It’s the fastest and easiest way to stay caught up on the news that matters to you.

In the next few weeks, we’ll be launching “proximity alerts" in our Android app, which will work on Android Wear watches, too. So when big news breaks near your location, your watch will warn you. Science fiction? Not for long.

Introducing proximity alerts and much more in the new Breaking News iOS app

We’re excited to launch a powerful new feature that’s a first for a mobile app: when a big story breaks near your physical location, we’ll send you a push alert with the news. We call it a “proximity alert,” and it’s now live in the Breaking News iOS app (Android coming soon.)

Proximity alerts are reserved for major stories that have a high likelihood of impacting you directly, or at the very least, that people around you are wondering what just happened. We’ve tested it with significant earthquakes, tornadoes, wildfire evacuations, train derailments, plane crashes, school shootings and public health warnings.

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(Photo by Adnan Islam)

For example, we tested it with the East Harlem building collapse in March, which spewed a big column of smoke over Manhattan and shut down a key transportation line. Moments after we verified the first reports on Twitter, we sent a push notification to our beta testers in New York City well before any other national news organization reported the news.

As with all of Breaking News’ alerts, our experienced editors are monitoring social media and vetting each story in real time. Now they’re also deciding which geography — from as narrow as a neighborhood to as wide as a country — that will be receiving a proximity alert.

It works internationally, too, and it will follow you as you travel — an invaluable resource even if you don’t use the app for anything else.

Engaging new design

We listened to Breaking News users and added a long list of design enhancements including larger inline photos and videos, infinite scroll, improved map view and easy “tab” navigation: 

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Our popular “Whoa” section — which highlights the stories, photos and video that are deemed the most surprising by our users in real time — has been given a tab of its own.  

We’ve also streamlined the iPad design, dedicating the entire portrait view to the stream, so you can read stories in a full-screen web view. Flipping the tablet to landscape view will reveal real-time data extras, just for fun.

What’s in your watchlist?

We’re also introducing a watchlist, which is an easy way to discover when news breaks in your favorite interests.  Just add topics to your watchlist by tapping the watchlist icon or searching for more.  Here’s my watchlist on the left:

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I’m watching the 2014 US elections and Edward Snowden, two big stories that interest me.  I’ve added tech and media because I work in those two industries. NBC is the company that owns Breaking News. Seattle is where I live, and Ferndale, CA is my hometown.

Whenever there’s a significant new development in any of these topics, it will be highlighted in my Breaking News stream (above right). I can also choose to get push notifications for up to 10 watchlist topics at a time (expanded from 5 after many requests). In my case, I receive push alerts with breaking updates about media, Seattle and NBC.

If you’ve been away for awhile, tap “all watched topics” to catch up on recent updates for all of your watchlist topics.

Beyond your own interests, you can also use your watchlist to gain an edge at work. For example, PR professionals and lawyers can watch their major clients so they can react quickly when news breaks. Lobbyists and activists can track breaking political news in key topics like cybersecurity, LGBT rights and minimum wage.

With over 38,000 topics and counting, Breaking News is a powerful real-time discovery tool. You can use Google Alerts to see every… single… time someone mentions a topic in a story. Or Radian6 to see the flood of social mentions. But Breaking News is the only service that tells you immediately when significant news breaks about a topic, guided by editors you can trust.

Making breaking news matter again

With so many news organizations screaming for your attention, it seems like red “breaking news” banners are a permanent fixture on TV sets and pesky push alerts are the new normal. But it doesn’t have to be that way. We even made a video about it:

Here at Breaking News, we’re working hard to make breaking news matter again by listening to you. From your favorite topics to proximity alerts, we’re getting better at anticipating the breaking news that’s uniquely important to you instead of spamming you with alerts. We give you just the facts you need, faster than any other news app.

Take back your attention and give us a try. We’d love to hear what you think.

Come work for Breaking News!

We have two editorial positions open: one in NYC and another in Seattle.

We’re looking for a Deputy Managing Editor to work at 30 Rock to lead our NYC and London-based editorial teams.  You’re a social-savvy editor who shares our “mobile first” vision, loves to experiment and thrives in a faced-paced news environment.  You also enjoy working in a startup atmosphere where smart editorial and product people work together on hard problems, and you’re comfortable communicating virtually with team members in other cities.  Apply here.

We’re also looking for a part-time contract editor based in our snazzy downtown Seattle office (check out the view).  This is your chance to break into a fast-growing news organization that’s reinventing breaking news for a mobile generation.  If you’re interested in this contract opportunity, email Tom Brew directly at thomas.brew{at}breakingnews.com.

As an independent startup owned by NBC, we have the unprecedented freedom to build amazing new products (our pipeline is full of them) while being supported by a major media company.  We hope to hear from you.

Last month: We’re hiring developers!

Breaking News launches new Twitter accounts

Breaking News is growing, and so is our audience.

We’re excited to announce the launch of three new Twitter accounts focused on some of our most popular topics.

Introducing: @breakingmoney, @breakingbytes and @breakingtravel.

These accounts will be go-to places for up-to-the-minute news about top companies, worldwide markets, technology and the transportation methods that keep you moving. No fluff, just the news that matters — as it happens in real time.

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More than 6.5 million Twitter users already follow our flagship @BreakingNews account, and hundreds of thousands get updates from our @breakingstorm, @breakingpol and @BreakingNewsUK accounts.

The recent launch of our new app and website, with an emphasis on customization, has taught us more about what Breaking News users want, and we’re thrilled to offer another way for people to get the news they care about.

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But these accounts only reflect a fraction of our coverage.

To get more updates on business, technology and travel news pushed straight to your mobile device, be sure to download our app through the links below, search for those keywords in the topics navigation section and hit the ‘alert’ icon (or mute ones you’d prefer to not get updates about).

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(Post by @aaronmedwards)

Breaking News celebrates 1 million Facebook likes

We’re celebrating a major milestone today: The Breaking News Facebook page has passed one million likes! We’ve grown our page organically over the last three years by focusing on what we do best: Helping people find news fast on news sites across the globe.  Along the way, we’ve given news organizations a Facebook boost when they break original stories

To mark the occasion, we thought we’d share some examples of posts that have resonated with our Facebook audience.  Here’s a look at our top five Facebook posts of 2014, as of April 15:

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1.)    Sometimes it’s not what’s breaking but what’s ridiculous that gets our audience going. On Feb. 1, we shared a “you have to see it to believe it” photo of an Ohio man who wished to be buried astride his beloved motorcycle. The photo with story from the Dayton Daily News quickly became our top post of 2014 — and also our top post ever with nearly 17,000 total shares and nearly 300,000 post clicks. For social media nerds: This was our only image post to crack the top five.

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2.)    Our first Facebook post on missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 was a bare-bones  status update on March 7. This update went on to reach more than 500,000 Facebook users and was shared more than 1,600 times. We’ve shared 26 updates on missing flight MH370 since then. The topic is the most alerted and whoa’d story of all time in our mobile apps.

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3.)    Deaths of notable figures are often the most surprising stories. The death of UK TV personality Peaches Geldof is our third most popular post this year with more than 460,000 people reached, more than 20,000 post clicks and more than 450 total shares.

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4.)    We constantly experiment with our publishing strategies for Facebook. Right now, we’re focused on sharing stories quickly – and posting more of them. A link post on Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget shared just a few minutes after it was released on April 1 reached more than 460,000 people and garnered more than 12,000 post clicks and more than 1,500 shares.

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5.)    Rounding out the top five is another simple status update on the search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370. Since the search began there have been many false alarms as search teams have spotted objects in the ocean or picked up faint pings. We have often posted these initial reports to Facebook to guide users to Breaking News as these reports are either confirmed or shot down.

Don’t have our free apps for iOS and Android yet? Download them today.

(Post by @gracej89)

We’re hiring again!

Breaking News is looking for an Android developer and a back-end developer to join our growing team and help invent the future of breaking news on mobile devices.

As a startup owned by a big media company, we’re the best of both worlds: we’re a nimble team that has the freedom to build what we want, and we have the resources of NBC Universal supporting us along the way.

You can work with us in Seattle at our snazzy new space, or we have office options in other cities as well.  For more information, click the links above to learn more about each job and apply.