September 15, 2014 Last Updated 12:12 pm

Al Jazeera Network launches new video app, AJ+, designed to encourage community debates

New iPhone and Android apps organizes video news content into ‘stacks’ – news topics designed to encourage conversations and debate between members of the new audience

With more and more young people using their smartphones to watch video, it makes sense for a media outlet to want to launch its own video app. Today Al Jazeera Network did just that.

AJPlus-iPhone5-W-lgThe iPhone app, simply called AJ+, is attempting to succeed where other video news apps have tried before: deliver video news through mobile devices. Newsy, NowThisNews, and others have had to build teams to create and deliver their content, something Al Jazeera doesn’t have to deal with.

Now, don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of news outlets that have created video apps, but they were really just warehouses for video inventory, rather than an integrated news app centered on video. The result has been apps with good content, but no organization, no prioritization. Those digital-only video news apps functioned more like a news site, but featured pretty amateurish content and plenty of green screens.

AJPlus-iPhone5-landAJ+ is probably the most attractive of the video news apps. Videos play within the stories unless the user turns their iPhone or Android (here is the Google Play version, currently in beta).

If there is a problem with a mobile app for video news, it is that stories must appear one after the other in a long line of content. With a standard news app, the developer can just include headlines and separate sections with headlines to cram in content. But here there is less content, but it is presented in a very attractive package that I’m sure users will appreciate.

At its center are ‘stacks’ – a way its developer has organized the content to encourage community conversations, topic debates.

Two or three years ago I might have made comment that an app like this is better on an iPad than for an iPhone. But smartphones are getting bigger, obviously, and more and more consumers are viewing video on their larger devices. I don’t doubt that publications will have to adapt their digital editions as phones sizes become more tablet-like (I refuse to use the term “phablet”).

Here is the promotional video for the new AJ+ app:

Comments are closed.