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A new way to access BBC News on your mobile

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Steve Herrmann Steve Herrmann | 13:42 UK time, Tuesday, 27 March 2012

If you are one of the growing number of people who use a mobile device to access BBC News, we have some important news for you.

This week sees the start of a revamp of our mobile services to make them even simpler and quicker to use, and to make more content available, more easily.

Mobile has become a key way for many people to keep up to date with news. In an average week, for example, the BBC News site and apps are visited by about 9.7m users on mobile and tablet devices worldwide, or about 26% of total users to BBC News Online.

Screengrab three options for accessing BBC News on a mobile

To date, there have been three options for accessing BBC News on a mobile. The experience you get varies considerably depending on which one you use:

1) The first, and oldest, mobile option is the "mobile browser" site - mostly comprising headline links and designed for the simpler mobile handsets which predated the arrival of smartphones.

2) The second is the BBC News mobile app, which has been downloaded from the Apple and Android app stores several million times and is designed to give quick access to the day's main stories. The app allows you to read them offline too, and is a handy way to catch up with the top stories fast, but doesn't contain all the related editorial material you would find on the main site.

3) The third is the full desktop website, which many people also access on their phones. This has the advantage of giving you everything the main website contains, but on a smallish mobile screen it can be hard work to pinch, zoom and scan the content.

Screenshot of most read stories section

Now we are simplifying some of the above into a new service which launches this week and replaces the earlier mobile browser site.

Using an approach called Responsive Design, the BBC Future Media product team for News have built a mobile site which can detect and adapt to your device, giving you the optimum size and format for the phone you are using.

This new site is designed, for now, mainly for simpler phones, although you should be able to access it on any device. It will gradually evolve as new features and functionality are added in coming weeks, to the point where it becomes the default browser for smartphones as well. For those using our apps, of course we'll keep them up to date too and continue to look for ways of developing and improving them.

Kate Milner, product manager working on BBC News for mobiles, explains here in more detail what the new mobile service has to offer, and what to expect next.

People sometimes talk about a "mobile first" view of digital development and this project is a step in that direction, since the underlying technology, design and editorial approach is likely to help shape the way we develop services for tablets and the main desktop site in future too. Chris Russell, who leads the product team, writes more about this here.

We hope you'll like using the new mobile site, and If you'd like to leave comments and feedback about it, or have questions, please post them here.

Steve Herrmann is editor of the BBC News website.

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