Facebook introduces app that sends smartphone alerts


Facebook Inc. introduced a mobile app that sends customised alerts to smartphone users, further deepening the ties between media companies and the social media giant. Facebook’s “Notify” app sends alerts to a smartphone’s lock screen on topics based on a user’s interests, such as sports, news, music or movies. For instance, the app could issue an alert about a movie release, then include a link to Fandango’s mobile site to buy tickets. Or it could send an alert linking to a Washington Post article about travel gridlock in the DC area. “Notifications are becoming one of the primary ways people first learn about things wherever they are,” Facebook product manager Julian Gutman wrote in a blog post Wednesday about the new app. More than 70 media partners are participating in the Notify app, including the New York Times, Time Warner Inc.’s CNN, Vice Media, BuzzFeed, Fandango and Bloomberg Business. Many of those same companies have already teamed up with Facebook for Instant Articles, a new program designed to speed up the time it takes to load stories on smartphones. Facebook’s approach with Notify differs from Instant Articles in an important way: While Instant Articles hosts stories directly on Facebook’s platform, Notify sends people back to other companies’ sites, allowing them to boost their Web traffic. Facebook has been working with publishers and public figures to ensure its feed presents news and live events, in addition to posts from friends. The Notify app, which became available Wednesday for owners of Apple mobile devices in the U.S., will give Facebook a way to alert its 1.5 billion users about what’s going on more broadly on the social network, and take advantage of a valuable piece of digital real estate: the smartphone lock screen. Bloomberg LP is the parent company of Bloomberg News. (By Gerry Smith/Bloomberg)

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