Breaking News looking for a mobile developer
We’re growing our team, and we’re looking for an experienced iOS application developer, preferably based in Seattle or New York. If you think breaking news is broken, come help us fix it. Millions of people already depend on our unique approach to blending verification with social media, and we’re hard at work taking Breaking News to the next level.
We’re an agile team that works under the umbrella of the NBC News Digital Group, but in a separate startup environment. In many ways, it’s the best of both worlds: the freedom to create disruptive new products with the backing of a large media company.
To learn more about the job, reach out to @magnetbox, drop us a note or search for job number 9843BR on NBCUniCareers.com.
Desktop alerts are here! We just rolled out a new update to our Windows 8 app that brings major Breaking News alerts to your desktop and tablet — even when you’re not inside the app.
As you can see above, a Breaking News alert has appeared on the upper-right of the screen. Depending on the news, we typically send one or two a day, focusing on the biggest stories. You’ll need to activate the notifications when you first download or update the app.
We’ve also launched a “live tile” that displays the latest breaking stories — smaller stories that we update throughout the day — on the Start screen. For more details about a report, you can pop open the Breaking News app and drill down to the source of the story. For our news partners, this will mean more clicks as Windows 8 scales.
Both of these additions make it easy to stay on top of the news in real-time with minimal interruption while you work. Download the Windows 8 app right here. If you have a Windows Phone, we have an app for that, too.
Breaking News launches on Windows Phones
Got your hands on a new Window 8 phone? Or a Windows 7.5+ device? We’ve just launched the Breaking News app for Windows Phone featuring the same lightning-fast coverage you’ve come to expect on BreakingNews.com and our iOS and Android apps.
Our team of journalists scour the planet for breaking news, quickly sifting out unconfirmed reports and boiling it all down to a simple, straightforward feed of real-time news. You can track your favorite stories, browse the biggest stories of the day and drill down to the original reports. There’s no faster source of reliable news on a Windows Phone.
We’ve just launched the app, but we’re already working on an update: live tiles and notifications are coming soon.
If you have a Windows 8 tablet or PC, we have an app for that, too.
Mobile is about solving problems
News Corp’s mobile-first startup The Daily is done, publishing its last story later this month. “The single biggest failing?” writes former employee Trevor Butterworth. “You can’t create an entirely new brand and take it behind a paywall after 4 weeks, while limiting its footprint on the Internet, and then expect people to buy it.” He also said The Daily’s content wasn’t differentiated enough.
To me, the two-year experiment at The Daily — which we should all applaud — signals a bigger challenge. Mobile is not merely another form factor, but an entirely new ecosystem that rewards utility. To succeed, companies must solve consumers’ problems.
If you watch startups pitch their products, they frequently begin by describing a real-life problem. For example, when you open up the wine menu at a restaurant and struggle with a selection. That’s the problem “Corki” recently described at a Startup Weekend event in Seattle, and the team plans to solve it with an app that scans wine lists and enables users to pick their favorite wines based on personal tastes. The problem leads into the opportunity and sets the context for everything.
"The way to get startup ideas is not to try to think of startup ideas. It’s to look for problems, preferably problems you have yourself," explains Y Combinator’s Paul Graham. “By far the most common mistake startups make is to solve problems no one has.”
In the journalism world, countless mobile efforts are platform extensions. There’s an urgency to get our branded content in front of consumers, wherever they are. Such extensions are a competitive reality, but they’re often just a new design for a new form factor. A growing number of mobile-first efforts, like The Daily, aim to rise above repurposed content with a fresh approach. But many lack a real problem to solve.
At Breaking News, we think about this a lot. What are the problems to solve around breaking news? That’s what we’re working on right now, and stay tuned for more blog posts about the unique challenges and opportunities of breaking news in a mobile universe.
(Post by @corybe. Earlier: 9 ways to become mobile first)
From a falling tree to mobile traffic records, a blockbuster 10 days at Breaking News
Our heads are still spinning after covering a double-punch of big stories, starting with Sandy and ending with election night. One of our Breaking News editors even narrowly escaped serious injury — or worse — as Sandy slammed into Long Island:
But first, let’s take a look at the numbers.
Working around the clock, our editorial team posted nearly 3,000 updates on our mobile apps and BreakingNews.com over the last ten days, with about one-quarter of those appearing on Twitter. For Sandy alone, we boiled down an avalanche of coverage to 1,012 real-time updates over several days, linking original, verified reports from hundreds of news organizations and eyewitnesses on the scene.
Breaking News’ mobile traffic soared 50% and downloads jumped 130% — setting a new record by a long shot — but even more interesting is the fact it skyrocketed over desktop traffic by a surprising 3-to-1 margin. We’re not just mobile-first anymore; we’re mobile-dominant.
Perhaps it shouldn’t be so surprising given the sea change of news consumption toward phones and tablets. Martin McClellan, our senior designer, says his 75 year-old mom is “hooked” on checking her iPhone for news. She even blogged about her experience checking the Breaking News app in the middle of the night for election updates.
"Come on, only people under thirty take their iPhones to bed with them," wrote Marilyn McClellan. "I’m am definitely not in that generation — but, there you have it, my confession!"
While mobile traffic surges, keep in mind that BreakingNews.com’s desktop traffic is no slouch, ranked #1 in Google for the search term “breaking news” and drawing a big spike during Sandy and the election. But the increasingly old-fashioned desktop is no match for combined mobile app and web traffic, especially as tablet use continues to explode.
Through all of this, we can’t be more relieved that Lauren McCullough, our supervising editor, survived a terrifying experience when Sandy made landfall on Long Island. “A tree crashed through my parents’ living room where we were all sitting tonight,” she emailed us at 1 a.m. “The roof came down on us, but we’re all fine and were able to get out of the house.”
Lauren was able to communicate with us — and send us that amazing photo above — because she escaped with her iPhone. “Miraculously (or telling), I was holding my phone when the roof collapsed and the tree came in, and I must have kept a life grip on it,” she emailed.
Mobile phones have becomes lifelines during big stories, both for people in the thick of the news and others experiencing it from afar. At Breaking News, we’re invested in making the mobile experience the fastest, most reliable source of news when it matters most.
(Post by @corybe)
For those of you sporting iPhone 5s, we’ve just rolled out an updated Breaking News app (iTunes) optimized for the larger screen. The app runs even faster on the new iOS 6.
We’ve also added new ways to share or bookmark an update: Linkedin, Pocket, Readability and Diigo have been added to Twitter, Facebook, email and SMS. Plus, push notifications now open the individual update, making it easier to jump to the original story (which was a popular user request.)
Let us know what you think, and more features are on the way!
Second screen for real-time news: Perhaps this is a little geeky, but we’ve heard from several Breaking News users who have set up their iPads as second screens next to their computers. Our recently-updated iPhone/iPad app now features automatic updates, so stories instantly refresh at the top of the stream the moment they break.
So if you’re a news junkie who always wants be the first to know, you can dock your iPad on one of these (or just prop it up) and keep an eye on the world while you work.
Get breaking stories on your Android home screen: After many requests, we’ve rolled out a new Breaking News Android app with a home screen widget. When you open up your phone, you’ll get caught up on the latest news of the moment in a single glance. Stories are updated every few minutes (and you can manually refresh), and you can scroll through the last five updates. Tap a story to visit it inside the app.
”Widget sells it,” says one five-star commenter on Google Play. If you’ve never installed a widget before, once you’ve updated the app, visit the widget section of your respective Android phone and include it on your home screen. And please let us know if you have any questions!
(Post by @corybe)
Whitney Houston news drives mobile visits
Whitney Houston’s death Saturday night took many people by surprise. Unlike other recent high-profile deaths, like those of Steve Jobs and Etta James, this news seemed to come from out of the blue.
AP was the first traditional organization to publish an alert with the news that night, and our editors quickly pushed their report out to our mobile users and across BreakingNews’ social channels.
Mobile traffic to the BreakingNews apps and mobile site exploded after we sent out our push alert. In total, we saw twice the number of mobile visits compared to desktop website visits on Saturday.
That first tweet we sent out had a link to AP’s report, which has been clicked on 119,000 times according to Twitter Analytics. It has been retweeted just under 7,300 times. According to Topsy Labs data, that link was the most retweeted article after the news broke, with 14,000 posts including it.
In total, we tweeted 11 updates on Saturday night with seven links pointing outward to news organizations, including the Los Angeles Times and The Huffington Post. Those links have generated a combined 290,000 clicks. We pushed out two more breaking updates on Sunday, including news that Houston’s daughter had been rushed to the hospital. That link to CBS News’ report has received nearly 54,000 clicks.
We can’t take all the credit for these high click-rates. Twitter Analytics only shows the total clicks on a link and doesn’t parse out the impact of individual tweets. But we’ve heard from several colleagues who’ve attributed their traffic spikes, in part, to our promotion of their content. And it’s worth noting that we’re only measuring Twitter clicks here, not clicks from Facebook, Google+, Tumblr, our website and mobile apps.
As we announced earlier this month, Breaking News is sending more than 100,000 referrals a day to news sites and social services. Our mission is to help time-crunched users navigate the sometimes confusing vortex of breaking news information. By distributing links, we serve users and reward content originators with traffic and a burst of social followers.
(Post by Lauren McCullough, @lfmccullough; Photo by Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images file)