The BBC has done well to adapt to the digital age and with more and more of its viewers – and readers it has to be said – engaging with the broadcaster via its app, it is keen to make sure that coverage is up-to-date and relevant.
It recently announced that its News app has received a major revamp, with personalisation at the heart of the changes made (this also applies to its website, so that the two are seamless and user-friendly).
In an article for the BBC, Steve Herrmann, editor of the broadcaster’s News website, said that in effect, the app was fundamentally new, such is the contrast between this version and its predecessor. It is available for Android and iOS platforms, as well as downloadable from Amazon.
Some of the new features on the app include a wider range of stories, including local news coverage from wherever you live in the UK. Users have the option of choosing a local area to follow – as a news feed – or can, based on your smartphone’s GPS, access local content automatically.
There is also “greater depth of coverage” with Top Stories now including more links to other content, analysis and context; a new MyNews section that allows you to follow topics and stories of particular interest to you; and a better display of video and pictures for a more immersive experience.
“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,” Me Herrmann explained.
“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.”
The BBC said that the upgrade is part of a “wider shake-up”, which is designed to make its website more relevant to increasingly sophisticated competitors and ever-more demanding consumers who demand a intuitive, easy and pleasant experience when it comes to apps.
Robin Pembrooke, general manager of news products at BBC Future Media, said that while the broadcaster appreciates that there are plenty of users who use and like the existing app, it still needed an upgrade – many were frustrated by the limitations, such as a lack of news coverage and the inability to create personal feeds.
He added: "It will be a big change for a number of people, so we are trying to provide a warning up front. We've got easy guides on how to use the new app, and there's in-app tips to help people use it."
One of the key changes, in terms of aesthetics and otherwise, is the way in which the stories are represented on the app. Traditionally, content has been positioned horizontally; now it will be vertical. This means that when it comes to viewing/reading stories, you select the relevant piece from a menu at the top of the screen.
"The old app was not really an optimum experience on tablets," Mr Herrmann went on to say. “The new app feels richer and more magazine-like, so editorially one of the things I hope happens is that the material we produce every day – features, backgrounders, explainers – gets much better showcased than had been the case previously."