Home Breaking News Online: The iPhone App is Live & Worth Buying

Breaking News Online: The iPhone App is Live & Worth Buying

News junkies rejoice, the much anticipated iPhone app from Dutch 19 year old Michael van Poppel’s scrappy and wildly popular international reporting network Breaking News Online (BNO) has been released (iTunes link).

The app uses the iPhone’s new push notification service to deliver important news updates from around the world to your phone with some control over priority levels and a delivery shut-off time scheduling option. It isn’t perfect, but is it worth two bucks to get important world news updates pushed automatically to your phone? You bet it is.

We wrote last month about van Poppel’s ambitious project and bizarre story. He’s gone from selling a mysterious tape of Osama Bin Laden to a news agency when he was 17 to now running a small, Twitter-centric network of reporters around the world – aggregating breaking news and doing original reporting faster than nearly anyone else on the web. Now you can get the group’s output pushed to you automatically. It’s a smart move and one that BNO says readers have been requesting loudly.

The app is a stream of very short news updates, some with links but most without. Not all notices are marked for push notification, but you can turn on push for low priority messages. In the last two hours, for example, BNO has pushed out eight news updates and five of them have been marked high priority. Three were about an unusually intense wave of earthquakes off the coast of Mexico, which seems like pretty high priority. Both the official news updates and the team’s personal Twitter updates demonstrate that the network is made up of humanitarians.

Audio notifications can be turned on or off and you can set times during which messages aren’t delivered. That’s nice. We’d really like to see other services offer this kind of functionality for more niche news topics, or RSS feeds of our selection.

BNO isn’t the only news app that uses the new push notification, but it does appear to be the most prolific. The Associated Press app, for example, seldom pushes out more than a few notices in an entire week. The BNO app isn’t super polished or complex; it isn’t a good way to read in-depth news, but it is very fast and quite well-suited to the modern news addict. It’s well worth the $1.99 price tag.

Update: Andrew Nystrom from the LA Times leaves a very interesting comment below reminding us of this app’s plan to charge a monthly $1 subscription fee, something that was mistakenly left out of the iTunes app store description! Is the app still worth it? We have no doubt that it is. One dollar per month is a trivial fee for a mobile push connection to the freshest news on the web. Not everyone will feel that way, though.

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