BuzzFeed gets serious with its own news app

In a mobile world already filled with news apps, the BuzzFeed News app faces a hefty dose of competition.

Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Lance Whitney
2 min read

BuzzFeed News tries to keep you abreast of the latest news items. screenshot by Lance Whitney/CNET

BuzzFeed sometimes takes a ribbing for its infamous lists and quizzes like "22 Cute Animals Impersonating People You See at the Gym" and "Which Beyoncé Song Matches Your Zodiac Sign?" But now Buzzfeed is showing a more serious side to itself by introducing its own news app for iOS users.

Debuting in the Apple Store on Thursday, BuzzFeed News is the latest mobile app striving to keep you abreast of the latest news items. Designed with a simple interface, the app starts off by displaying brief descriptions of the top stories. Scrolling down then reveals more details on each story, allowing you to tap a particular one to read the item in full. You can then swipe back to access other stories.

BuzzFeed News sticks to its main mission of showing you the latest news. But the app faces a hefty dose of competition. The mobile world is already filled with news apps. You can find apps from dedicated news outlets, such as the Associated Press, the New York Times, CNN and the BBC. You can also find apps that collate news from different sources, including Flipboard, News360, LinkedIn Pulse and Google News. And come this fall, Apple will roll out its own news app as part of iOS 9. So what makes BuzzFeed different?

The stories are chosen by BuzzFeed's editors rather than by some algorithm. Some of the stories are brief, providing just the basic information, while other stories go deeper in case you wish to delve into a certain topic. The app also provides context and background to certain stories. For example, the app reported on Wednesday's killing of nine people at a black church in South Carolina. BuzzFeed followed up that item with additional stories that looked at a history of the church itself and a history of attacks on black churches.

You can't customize the app to see only stories on topics that interest you. But that's a plus if you want to know what's going on in the world outside your own interests. And you can create customizable notifications. If you're interested in a particular topic such as technology, business or entertainment, you can tell the app to notify you of any breaking stories in those areas.

BuzzFeed News will rely on its team of more than 170 news reporters, according to the site's newest blog post, as well as reporting from other sources to make sure it's always covering the latest news.

You can also share any news story through the app's dedicated sharing toolbar or through Apple's iOS extensions. Stories can be shared via email, instant messaging, Twitter or Facebook.

Okay, but what about Android users? An Android version of BuzzFeed News is in the works and should be out in a couple of months, according to the BuzzFeed blog.