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Cable Technology Feature Article

April 26, 2013

Al-Jazeera English Launches Second-Screen Functionality for iPad

By Tara Seals, TMCnet Contributor

Al Jazeera English has overhauled its iPad app to lend more of a second-screen feel to the functionality thanks to social media enhancements.

The app, which offers free access to the channel’s news feed, now comes with Twitter (News - Alert) integration, for one. Users can view the channel’s official Twitter feeds and integrate their own, along with hashtags – all alongside streaming news and programs.

The app also now lets users to share content from within the widget with friends and family through Twitter, Facebook (News - Alert) and e-mail integration.

"We want to encourage ever more interaction with our content, and this development enables that interactivity to take place. This feature will especially come into its own during major breaking events," said Moeed Ahmad, head of new media, Al Jazeera, in a statement.

Another enhancement is the addition of what the channel calls a “fluid grid,” which presents videos in different positions and in differently sized windows within the app depending on their news value. If something is trending, it will get more play on the home screen.

The network also said that the app integrates with Al Jazeera’s news systems is such a way that stories will sometimes show up digitally before they air live.  

The enhancement comes in tandem with Al Jazeera’s deepening play inside the United States. In March, it essentially bought its way onto the airwaves after years of its carriage being denied by pay-TV operators, by purchasing struggling Current TV, the left-leaning channel founded by Al Gore and businessman Joel Hyatt.

Al Jazeera is starting a new U.S.-based news channel in Current’s place, bringing it to 40 million U.S. households, up from a paltry 4.7 million before the sale. In early April, it hired its first news anchor for the forthcoming channel, former CNN fixture Ali Velshi.

"By acquiring Current TV, Al Jazeera will significantly expand our existing distribution footprint in the U.S., as well as increase our newsgathering and reporting efforts in America,” said Al Jazeera Director General Ahmed bin Jassim Al Thani.

He added pointedly, "We look forward to working together with our new cable and satellite partners to serve our new audiences across the U.S."

Edited by Rachel Ramsey

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