UK’s public broadcaster BBC has partnered with Kenya’s digital innovator Ongair to develop and launch and new mobile app – BBC Drop – which enables the BBC to deliver new content via smartphones.
The BBC Drop app is a responsive website specially created to work well on smartphones and was designed in Nairobi last year.
The idea was born out of a development studio (aka ‘hackathon’) held by the BBC World Service and BBC digital innovations team, Connected Studio. Teams of African tech experts were invited to think of new ways to reach young Africans through social and digital media and this selected idea can now be tried and rated by the potential audience themselves on the BBC Taster site.
Dmitry Shishkin, Digital Development Editor for BBC World Service, adds: “This latest innovation highlights the BBC’s strong commitment to serving young digital audiences in Africa – both editorially and technically. Digital revolution in Africa offers media companies great opportunities to grow the reach of their journalism and I am very happy that an African tech start-up is playing a key role in it”.
BBC Drop asks the user for a few favourite topics, or social media preferences, and then continues to learn what they like and dislike from what they swipe on screen. There is also the option of an even more personal news feed which incorporates the user’s own social feeds. The end result is users getting to see content specifically tailored to them, and the stuff they are not interested in being filtered out.
The app has a vibrant easy-to-use design and has been successfully user-tested in several African countries. The ability to swipe away anything you want to ignore makes it the perfect way to access BBC news for the smart-phone generation.
The BBC Drop pilot is available on BBC Taster and can be tried out and rated for the next three months. It works well on all screens and devices, but has been designed with Android users in mind given the overwhelming popularity of the platform with our audiences across the world and in Africa in particular. The site collects news content from across the BBC. The aggregation and tagging is made possible using BBC Juicer, a tool created by BBC News Labs, which takes in news sources from across the globe and automatically tags specific topics.
The launch of the BBC Drop pilot continues the BBC’s investment in digital innovation across Africa and it follows hot on the heels of another successful African-designed digital pilot: BBC Minute CatchUp, designed by a South African team of young innovators which has so far been viewed over 290,000 times since its own pilot began in Nov 2015.
Ongair is technology startup which develops products that make it easier for companies to engage their audiences on instant messaging platforms. In December last year, Ongair secured US $125,000 in funding from investors led by Nest VC, Zeytin Limited, Venture Kinetics and other angel investors to help it expand into Asia.