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BBC News on your mobile

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Steve Herrmann Steve Herrmann | 08:38 UK time, Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Screenshot BBCNews on a mobile


Earlier this year we launched a new version of the BBC News mobile site, making it easier and quicker to use. This week we've begun the process of directing all mobile users automatically to that site. This means that anyone who visits BBC News on their mobile will be taken to the version of the site best suited to the type of phone they are using.

Many of you already visit the mobile site regularly but, up until now, people looking for BBC News on their phone will often have found themselves on the desktop version of the site, which is designed for desktop PCs, macs and laptops - all with much bigger screens. If you are using this desktop version on your phone it can be awkward to pinch, zoom and scan the stories on a small mobile screen.

This image shows how the mobile site displays on a smartphone - compared with the desktop version:

Screenshot of BBC News mobile on a smartphone


To tackle this, we've been working over the past six months to improve and add to the mobile site, taking on board your feedback about how you'd like to see it develop.

We've recently added video clips for iPhone and Android users, and made it easier to navigate the site. (We hope to extend this video service to other types of mobile in the future.) We've also added easier ways of getting to local news and weather services, something many of you asked for. You can read more about those changes here.

So, we're confident that the mobile site now has the wide range of content you are looking for and that it offers a better experience on a small screen than the desktop site, which is why we are taking the step of automatically redirecting mobile users there.

Of course, you may be happy to keep visiting the desktop site on your mobile and if you want to continue doing so just scroll to the bottom of the page and tap on the link for the desktop site. Your choice will be remembered for the next time you visit.

Similarly, if you use a mobile and find that you're not redirected to the new site, you can scroll to the bottom of the page and select the mobile site.

This is the latest stage in the ongoing work by our News product team on responsive design - a way of presenting our content to you in the most suitable way by detecting the type of device you are using and displaying the format best adapted for it. We are doing similar work to optimise the site for tablet users too.

The number of people coming to BBC News on mobile continues to grow. In an average week, 13.3m users worldwide use their mobile or tablet to visit the BBC News site and apps - around one-third of total users to BBC News Online.

If you are one of them, our aim is to offer you the full range and depth of BBC News content, whatever device you are using, whilst also making best use of the screen size.

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 below. Or you can tweet your views using the hashtags #bbcnews #responsive

Update: Thanks for your comments. Here are some answers to the questions posted below:

John Walsh – Kindle: As a tablet device, albeit with a smaller screen than some makes, Kindles currently default to the desktop site. Users of any device including Kindles are certainly free to use the mobile version if they prefer by clicking the link at the bottom of the screen. Our aim is to further improve the experience for progressively larger screen sizes over time.

Jesse Moore - HTC: We know there are some devices that are incorrectly classified by our systems, often due to the fact that some devices have different identifiers dependent on the mobile network they are on. In any case we will certainly be doing everything we can to correct errors and ensure the redirection behaves as it should. In the meantime, please use the “Mobile Site” link at the foot of the page should you wish to use the mobile site – the selection will be remembered as long as cookies are not cleared. At this time the redirect only applies to the BBC Homepage and the News site.

Cogito Ergo Sum - Windows phone: This change applies to the browser experience, which is already designed to work for Windows Phone although at present we are unable to provide video for those devices.

Costmeabob - We take accessibility for our services seriously so, for example, our browser and applications are designed to work with Voiceover on iOS. 

Tim Stey - If you do still prefer the desktop version you can select the link at the bottom of the page and you’ll be taken to it. Your choice will be remembered next time you visit the site. We are working on enhancing the mobile site still further to include more content where the technology allows it - but with navigation more suited to a smaller screen size. 

 Josh Tumath - This blog post might be of interest, about our overall approach to responsive design published in March by Chris Russell, head of product for BBC News Online.

Steve Herrmann is editor of the BBC News website.


  • Comment number 1.

    Good work! It looks really good on my Galaxy Nexus in Chrome.

  • Comment number 2.

    Should kindle users use this too ?

  • Comment number 3.

    It would be helpful to many people if you put up a QR code as an aid to getting the site onto a mobile.

  • Comment number 4.

    On the HTC Titan, when I go to I am redirected back to the Desktop site automatically. The same if I go directly to /news or /weather . You need to add "IEMobile/9.0" to the user ID string of the redirector so users of I.E 9 on Windows Phone can use the mobile site.

  • Comment number 5.

    The photo at the top is showing a Windows Phone (Lumia 920 perhaps). But as far as I know there is no BBC News app made by BBC for Windows Phone. (There are 3rd party apps though). So, when is it coming?

  • Comment number 6.

    'easier and quicker to use'
    How about trustworthy? I am constrained on detail by a Trust embargo until the 30th, but are you confident on 'accuracy won't fit' errors not being repeated, or defended by default up to highest authority before being conceded?

  • Comment number 7.

    I often use my iPad to read the BBC News website. The desktop version of it which I get works fine most of the time, except that video and audio content sometimes doesn't work because it wants me to install Adobe Flash, which isn't possible on an iPad.

  • Comment number 8.

    I'm rather thankful for you for doing this. I use the BBC Mobile News site alot, finding it extremely useful through my day. May I ask though will you be tackling the Twitter share from the Mobile Version as I have experienced a blank Tweet with the shortened link in it.

  • Comment number 9.

    Can you now do something about your woeful News App? I was not even aware a mobile site existed since I assumed the App would automatically take me to such a site. Obviously it doesnt and the content is very poor.

  • Comment number 10.

    Question, for powers apparently unused to being themselves held to account.
    Why is this thread reactively modded yet the one preceding it is pre-modded?
    Just a question that I am asking.

  • Comment number 11.

    I'm hoping you tested this all in Opera, the worlds most common mobile browser, as ignoring it is insanity (but I wouldn't put it past BBC right now, based on their other dubious mobile strategic decisions).

  • Comment number 12.

    As someone involved with responsive design (but with no connection to the BBC) I think your team have done a very good job here. I never bothered using the News app as it felt too limited, but the mobile-optimised website is considerably better, with so much more content. To those complaining about the news app - why exactly do you still need it?

  • Comment number 13.

    works ok on smartphone for quick viewing, but not real browsing - but ugly & not very customisable on tablet, have reverted to desktop view & uninstalled app.

  • Comment number 14.

    BBC Mobile works great on my Samsung Note.

    I always have found the BBC to have the most worldwide comprehensive views.

  • Comment number 15.

    Looks and works perfect on my Nokia PureView on Opera. Good work.

  • Comment number 16.

    Speaking about the BBC News Web Site generally. I should like to see some Sub-Editors employed. I don't think I've seen a single article that hasn't got some sort of typographical, factual or grammatical error. It's very disappointing.


  • Comment number 17.

    I like BOTH the mobile and the desktop versions of the site and had two shortcuts set up so I could choose which site to use. Now both send me to the same site (the last I used) and I have to change it manually. Not very user friendly.

  • Comment number 18.

    In response to user Cogito Ergo Sum who posted earlier that there was no BBC News app for Windows Phones, I have a Nokia Lumia 800 Windows phone, and the new mobile version of BBC News has been appearing automatically on it today without me needing to search for it or download. I think it's a great format and am very happy with it!

  • Comment number 19.

    @Villordsutch: thank you very much for this valuable feedback. We were able to implement a quick fix, and Twitter shares will feature the title of the shared story in the next update of our responsive mobile website. Stay tuned!

  • Comment number 20.

    @ G Woods: I found a few 3rd party apps for WP, but none from BBC. I've checked just now after reading your post, but couldn't find any. BBC mobile site, although very good and useful, has got a different view from the photo on the top. The 2-columns view is still not in the mobile site. I get 1-col view as shown on the WP device on the 2nd photo. BBC must have made an app for WP8.

  • Comment number 21.

    @Kaelig: Could you please tell a bit about plans to make BBC aps for Windows Phone (7.8 and 8.0).

  • Comment number 22.

    great - but it doesn't work. my i-phone 4 takes me to the desktop site no matter what i do, even if i follow the instructions!

  • Comment number 23.

    sorry. no luck, my samsung windows phone 7.5 just keep getting the desktop version, so I am forced to use a 3rd party app to browse thru your content. plus, even in the DT version, many videos are just to been watched inside the UK....

  • Comment number 24.

    @Cogito Ergo Sum: Sorry, I have no information on the strategy adopted by BBC News regarding Apps on Windows Phones.

  • Comment number 25.

    Works great on my Samsung and I much prefer the mobile version to the desktop version on the smaller device.. Good job BBC!

  • Comment number 26.

    I'm really really annoyed that you've decided to default mobile users to your mobile version of BBC news. One of the reasons I bought a smartphone was so that I could get a realistic web browsing experience and not have to access limited mobile Internet style versions of websites. How can you possibly believe that this is a better user experience? 'Awkward to pinch, zoom and scan' really?!!

  • Comment number 27.

    @Foolmeonce - Pinch and zoom (+ horizontal scroll) is not "a better user experience". You lament the lack of "a realistic web browsing experience" - but the very notion of that no longer exists. More people access the web on mobile devices now than desktop. Websites are now built to adapt layout and font size in different ways to different devices.

  • Comment number 28.

    Also: yes in the old days mobile sites usually meant much less content + a sense of missing out on the 'full' version of a site. It's why I (probably like you) always headed straight to the Desktop link. But this is much less true today with responsive sites. If things are now dropped for mobile users, there's usually a good reason for that. But so far I can't say I'm missing anything.

  • Comment number 29.

    Can't watch videos on my Windows Phone :( Please rectify this. Beginning to think it was a bad idea and should have paid the difference for an Android!

  • Comment number 30.

    I'm sorry dotconnect although you make an eloquent argument for the mobile version I'm afraid I'm going to have to disagree. For me it's a compromise too far. Simplicity is not always better and the loss of content and functionality feels like stepping back 5 or 6 years. Replacing horizontal scrolling with vertical scrolling and the inability to view > 1 headline at a time is not an improvement.

  • Comment number 31.

    In an era where both larger and higher resolution screens are becoming the norm on mobile devices does it really make sense to default to a lower content user interface for mobile browsing. I'm sorry this seems like a retrograde step to me.

  • Comment number 32.

    1) Vertical scrolling is 2nd nature to mobile users & easy to perform. Horizontal scrolling to reach the end of a line is awkward, involving back + forth with each line.

    2) Resolution is of little use if the screen is physically too small to read text without having to constantly pinch & zoom. Poor usability.

  • Comment number 33.

    [Sorry, character limit!] As long as same content is available and easy to access, even if in a different manner, I think mobile-optimised sites are the best way forward. If extraneous 'bells and whistles' elements of desktop sites need to be sacrificed (feature banners, say), so be it - tho Beeb seem to have done well on this.

  • Comment number 34.

    so how does the BBC NEWS WEBSITE detect those whose SIGHT may be impaired, be it through natural degradation or injury?

    think of servicemen blinded and injured in some way unable to share in this so called hi-tech investment by the Beeb.

    what are you doing for them? speech recognition? LARGE text?

    NO I didn't think so either!

  • Comment number 35.

    On my Nexus 7 tablet it gave me the mobile site which wasn't very helpful. However, cookies are working and it now gives me the desktop site. Thanks.

  • Comment number 36.

    I have to agree with costmeabob here, this format seems to do nothing to improve accessibility for visually impaired people. Also dotconnect the scrolling issues you describe are specific to certain devices. 'Mobile optimised' shouldn't mean stripping out content and functionality so that everyone gets the same limited user experience. I think we may have to agree to disagree.

  • Comment number 37.

    Don't like the mobile version. I will continue to use the desktop version on my Xperia Arc.

  • Comment number 38.

    #36 - depends on the content. If a super-wide version of the site was developed for massive screens which required some extra bells and whistles content to fill it out, should this extra fluff be forced into the desktop version just so it's not missing out? Core content vs. extraneous content is the key here.

  • Comment number 39.

    If I go to either the main or the mobile address using my Sony Xperia S I see the desktop version. The browser describes itself as "Mozilla/5.0 (Linux; U; Android 4.0.4; en-gb; SonyEricssonLT26i Build/6.1.A.0.453) AppleWebKit/534.30 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/4.0 Mobile Safari/534.30" in case that helps

  • Comment number 40.

    Foolmeonce (sorry, not meaning to keep singling you out here) the horizontal scrolling issues I described are indeed specific to certain devices - but unfortunately these are the most popular mobiles - android phones, iPhones, etc - the very devices this upgrade is largely targeting. So horizontal scrolling (along with double-tap to enlarge... oops, just tapped a link) IS otherwise a problem.

  • Comment number 41.

    hate it, i would much rather have the desktop version, shame you havnt taken the option of many websites that on visiting ask if you want mobile or desktop version. shame i use to alway visit bbc news on my phone as of yesterday i doubt i will anywhere as much, harder to navigate, seem less content, shame where not given an option.

  • Comment number 42.

    No worries dotconnect, it's an interesting discussion even if we're not on the same page. To be honest the format of the mobile site is not what I'm taking issue with. Defaulting me to the mobile version without asking and telling me its a better user experience is what I take issue to. Btw I have an iPhone and horizontal scrolling is not an issue for me on the full site.

  • Comment number 43.

    Windows phone: as a WP7 user, I know that WP7 is a terrible, terrible OS when it comes to compatibility with many basic web standards. Your response is still inadequate:

    Are you actively looking to provide video to WP7 or are you just going to worry about windows8?

    Have you even liaised with Microsoft to see if there's a solution that works for you?

  • Comment number 44.

    Why did you choose not to have one website that uses responsive design to cater for both PC and device users? Wouldn't it be more cost-effective to maintain one under one URL?

  • Comment number 45.

    I browse using a Jimmy Savile, what about that?

  • Comment number 46.

    Looks OK in Symbian Belle. Thanks.

  • Comment number 47.

    My Lumia 710 has VIDEO on the BBC News mobile site - yes it's really true.

    Is this accidental or does it suggest future support for Windows Phone?

  • Comment number 48.

    Is anyone interested in BBC news? BBCs famous "independence" is based on never saying anything that might upset the oligarchy and its news reporting is increasingly only state propaganda on types "approved" by the oligarchy. Why is it that only PressTV had live video when the police units hired by Goldman Sachs were beating protesters in Zucatti Square in NY? Harder to reach than Tahir Plaza?

  • Comment number 49.

    BBC needs to open many more articles to comment. Having lived in many countries, its foreign reporting is of increasingly low quality and usually only reflects the stereotypes regurgitated by a reporter in Britain. Clearly many people know more about these countries than BBC reporters and could easily correct the errors and provincialism of their stereotypes.

  • Comment number 50.

    Great job. Video works on my Lumia 900. I no longer feel like a second class citizen (or even third class after Android) and can dump my 3rd party news app!

  • Comment number 51.

    Interesting comment about Opera above... I have Opera Mobile on Android, but am not redirected to the m site though. Looks good in the native browser though.

  • Comment number 52.

    On the Nexus 7 I can view videos on the mobile version of the site with no issue but on the desktop version it expects me to have Flash installed, which isn't possible. As it stands if there's a news story with an embedded video I have to temporarily switch to the mobile version. Will it be possible to enable the same videos as displayed in the mobile version in the desktop version for Android?

  • Comment number 53.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 54.

    Arrrggghhh!! The miobile version of BBC News has taken over my Galaxy S2... Sorry BBC but I really, really don't like the mobile version.. too simplified, can't see all at a glance... dumbed down.. BUT for some reason it won't let me go back to the desk top version. Why??? How can I get my preferred version back?

  • Comment number 55.

    Is there any way for us to link directly to either site as an override ?

    Often I want to view the desktop site on my mobile, and vice versa.

    The previous links now don't work - and worse the redirection is different for UK and US IP addresses.


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