The world is defaulting to Sochi time as thousands of athletes, politicians, journalists and spectators gather in Russia for the 2014 Winter Olympics.
During the 2012 Olympics in London, we saw an outcry from users across news sites, apps and social media who were trying to dodge event results until they were televised in primetime. For many news organizations, including our own, it was counter to what we do – we report the news as it happens. At Breaking News, we called an audible and decided to stop tweeting and sending push alerts with results. Instead, we published real-time results to our apps and website and used Twitter and push alerts to tell users they could come get the information if they wanted it. Not the most graceful solution, but it solved the problem and we heard from many appreciative users.
We learned a lot from that experience. Users are not a homogenous group that all want the same thing. Personalization and customization are an essential part of any news experience, but especially a mobile experience.
At the end of 2013, we launched a completely new Breaking News app for iOS that lets users control what’s news to them and how they receive it. Today, we’re launching our updated app for Android users and we’re focused in on the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
NO SPOILER ALERTS NEEDED
The Breaking News app for iOS and Android allows users to experience a spoiler-free Olympics with just a simple tap of the screen. Avoid event results entirely by clicking the mute icon on the Olympics event results topic tag. Want to avoid all Olympics coverage, period? Click the mute icon on the 2014 Sochi Olympics topic tag.
CONTROL YOUR UPDATES
Our editors will be following the games and publishing updates on the events, as well as culturally significant moments (Team USA uniforms, anyone?) and related hard news, like protests and security threats. We’re organizing and sorting those updates to make it easy for you to customize your app experience.
Maybe you’re a big fan of figure skating and you can’t wait until after work to know if Gracie Gold lands her jumps, but you also want to wait for the broadcast of the US-Canada men’s hockey game. Maybe you’re just not into skiing and you want to skip seeing those results altogether.
You can get push notifications for the Olympic events you’re most passionate about by clicking the alert icons on the event topic tags. You can also save those event tags as “favorites” for a custom stream in the app. And you can avoid specific events by clicking the mute icons:
Breaking News lets you decide what’s breaking to you. Your Olympics, your way.
It’s been over four years since our Breaking News editors began sifting through social media, identifying reliable reports in real time and discarding rumors along the way. From Hurricane Sandy to the Boston Marathon bombing, we have a terrific track record of getting things right, and users have grown to trust our curation.
After a few weeks of experimentation, we’re now providing occasional glimpses into our real-time newsroom. We’re calling them editor’s notes, and we’re publishing them in our apps and BreakingNews.com. Here’s a note we published during a series of bombings in Egypt:
Editor’s notes offer context surrounding a breaking story, advisories of upcoming events, unique sources we’re seeing and warnings about potential misinformation circulating in social media. It’s essential guidance from our experienced team of journalists to help you quickly navigate the increasingly noisy world of breaking news.
They’re also a handy heads-up if you want to alert or mute a story before it begins:
In the news business, weekends have always been a bit of an afterthought. But in the world of mobile, Saturdays and Sundays are taking on new significance.
Take this last Sunday as an example: Breaking News broke all-time mobile records without an earth-shattering story. There was plenty of news: frigid weather across most of the US, the Aspen plane crash, the Manhattan high-rise fire and the NFL playoffs, but typically record traffic is driven by a major and unexpected breaking news event.
We set new single-day records for visits, shares and “whoas” — the cold weather story was whoa’d the most, followed by the plane crash — with thousands of users personalizing our iOS app by muting and alerting stories. (Learn more about our new app.)
We’ve seen the mobile weekend trend intensify over the last few months. Both FT.com and The Guardian have documented the effect, and news organizations are beginning to notice that mobile traffic is surpassing the desktop on weekends first, weekdays second. As more people shift news consumption to mobile, they’re taking the news with them as they navigate their weekends, either out and about on smartphones or lounging around on a tablet.
For news organizations that traditionally allocate more coverage resources on Monday through Friday, the mobile weekend is sparking some rethinking about how to best schedule editors and reporters. The same goes for evenings and nights, which also attract a spike in mobile usage.
As mobile shows no signs of slowing down, this will be a fascinating year to watch.
(Post by @corybe)
Why do people uninstall apps? Appiterate conducted a survey and discovered one reason stands above the rest: annoying push notifications.
This probably shouldn’t come as a big surprise: just about any app you download these days wants to send you notifications. The vast majority of them are promotional, harassing you to open the app. In many ways, one of mobile’s most powerful features is turning into a spam factory.
Appiterate’s advice is common sense: “The good practice here would be to make the notifications absolutely useful for the user.” They should be valuable to you.
One of our most popular features at Breaking News is push notifications, but the same breaking stories aren’t valuable to everyone. So in the new version of our iOS app — Android coming soon — we enabled you to “alert” any topic you want: cities, countries, companies, people and even specific stories. We also write the notifications so you can read them without having to open the app.
So far, the new custom alerts feature is tremendously popular, and users are creating their own personal alert services. We put together this tip sheet on how to best personalize push notifications. And coming soon: even more features to make your push alerts absolutely useful at the speed of Breaking News.
See also: Breaking News’ app alerts can scream all day or stay out of your way (Poynter)
(Post by corybe / @corybe)