Redesigned WRAL News app puts users in control with new ways to get their news

Posted January 20, 2020 11:50 a.m. EST
Updated January 26, 2020 8:05 a.m. EST

The WRAL News app has received a complete overhaul – from engineering to design – to give users more control over the content that is most important to them. And as we get feedback, even more enhancements are being incorporated.

For the first time ever, WRAL News readers can choose how they want to consume the news. The all-new WRAL News app allows users to browse the day's top stories in a traditional form as hand-curated by the WRAL newsroom; scan a reverse-chronological list of the latest headlines from local and national sources as the news breaks; or pick through the news that matters most through the new "My News" feature.

The app now offers users a headline scanning option, turning off most images to allow for more headlines to be viewed with less scrolling.

Weather, always a popular section in the app, is accessible three ways -- from the temperature in the top right corner, the 3-day forecast and radar overview under Top Stories, and the More menu.

With My News, users are able to search WRAL's database of more than 5,000 topics and build a list of content that is truly personalized. When the user returns to the My News screen, they'll find only the stories and videos related to those topics they selected.

WRAL News App My News

"We think loyal WRAL viewers and app users will appreciate having quick, reliable access to the news and information that matters most to them," said John Conway, general manager for new media at Capitol Broadcasting Company, parent of WRAL.

By logging in with their WRAL.com account, users are able to sync topics across multiple devices. So whether on their iPhone, Android or tablet, users will be able to quickly access their personalized news feed though the WRAL News app.

For the true news junkies, the WRAL News app also allows users to browse the latest news as it comes into the WRAL newsroom going back a full 24 hours. And of course, users can also view only the top stories of the day as curated by WRAL’s editors; swiping between sections will allow users to dig into specific topics of interest, all in a curated form.

WRAL News App Latest News

"One feature our users have long asked for is the ability to see all of the latest stories," said Jake Seaton, digital product manager for WRAL Digital. "We're excited to finally make this available – all of the news you could possibly ask for, unfiltered."

Video is another a major focus in the new WRAL News app, making it easier to find segments from recent newscasts; watch live, breaking news coverage; browse WRAL’s rich video archive going back more than 20 years; as well as stream the Triangle's most-viewed TV newscast. The new app will also offer previews of videos as users scroll through its screens.

Users can watch WRAL News live right on the home screen of the app, while continuing to browse the day's top stories. Or, in the event of breaking news, a red "Live" icon at the bottom of the app will alert users when there is a new live video to watch –including live streams from Sky 5, the Breaking News Tracker and the WRAL Storm Tracker.

WRAL News App Live Newscast

The new app additionally makes it easier to find segments from recent newscasts; explore WRAL's network of live cams across central and eastern North Carolina; and browse an archive of videos, including past documentaries and episodes of the Tar Heel Traveler.

Given the importance of weather to WRAL News app users, current data and forecasts remain one of the most prominent highlights of the app redesign.

If location services are enabled, users will see the temperature and weather conditions for their current location featured at the top of the app. A quick-glance, three-day outlook along with a dynamic weather radar image are also prominently displayed on the app's home screen.

Interacting with either the current conditions or the outlook will take the user directly to the app's weather screen, where they can find: the full, seven-day forecast; detailed forecasts from WRAL's expert team of meteorologists; an hourly forecast going out more than 48 hours; the live DUALDoppler 5000; the regularly updated video forecast; and the Weather Feed, featuring unique graphics and informational tidbits from WRAL's meteorologists.

Tapping either the radar image on either the app’s home screen or the weather section will take users directly to the fully interactive iControl weather radar, allowing them to track storms as they approach or view the Futurecast radar.

With such a wealth of information at their fingertips, WRAL News app users should have everything they need to plan the next few hours or days.

"We know that users come to us reliably for weather updates," Conway said. "The app gives them everything they need to know, from an experienced weather team they trust, including frequent updates throughout the day from the Severe Weather Center."

The new app marks the first major redesign of the WRAL News app in almost five years.

Behind the scenes, the app takes advantage of cutting-edge framework and caching techniques to enhance performance and make more regular updates and improvements to the app. This was all done in an effort to make sure breaking news and video is delivered quickly and efficiently across a variety of Apple and Android devices.

"Rebuilding the app from the ground up not only gives users a new, improved and customized experience, but we've also become much more efficient at delivering our information to the app," said Alex Phillips, director of technology for WRAL Digital. "Nothing is more important than reliably providing important information to our users when they need it most."

The new WRAL News app is available now in the Apple App Store as well as via the Google Play Store. Users who already have the WRAL News app installed and have enabled auto-updating of apps on their devices will see the new app without having to take any action.

Once installed, the new app will walk users through some of the new features. To get started with My News, simply tap the "My News" icon at the bottom of the app, log in or create a WRAL.com account, and start searching for the topics you want to follow.

If you have feedback on the new app, tap "More" at the bottom of the app, then "Contact Us."

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