Facebook has released an app for iPhone owners called Notify that gathers news and entertainment stories into one regularly updated feed.

CNN, Fox News and the Washington Post are among the 70 organisations providing stories to the app.

Anyone who installs the app chooses their own mix of sources that will post notifications to their feed.

It competes directly with Twitter’s Moments and Apple’s News service, which create feeds of breaking stories.

The feed of stories could be customised by choosing from several different categories, including movies, music, sport, news and celebrities, Facebook said in a blogpost.

There are also categories for daily meditation exercises and another from the Getty picture library showing iconic images from the same day in history.

Currently, the Notify service is available only to iPhone-owning Facebook members in the United States.

Facebook has not said when or if the service will be extended to other parts of the world or other operating systems.

Notifications about new articles appear on the lock screen of an iPhone and can be shared from that display.

Mark Mulligan, managing director of analyst company Midia Research, said the move made sense because Facebook had become the “jumping off point into our digital lives”.
“The better a job it can do of this, the better it locks users in,” he said. “It has seen standout success with spinning out Messenger and recognises that the more touchpoints it can develop with its users, the more it can create greater loyalty.”

Notify comes soon after Facebook unveiled its Instant Articles service In May. This sought to speed up the delivery of off-site content by hosting it in its own data centres. Articles from BuzzFeed, National Geographic, the New York Times and six other media organisations are featured on the service.

Instant Articles is initially available only on iPhones but tests of an Android version have begun.

A similar, rival service called the Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) initiative was launched by Google and many other web firms in October.

AMP stored slimmed down copies of stories from dozens of news organisations to enable them to load faster on portable devices.


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