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BN watch_appWith its new Apple Watch app, Breaking News wants to give everyday people an easy way to notify editors of potential stories.

Seattle-based Breaking News, which runs popular mobile apps and a Twitter feed with 7.5 million followers, will debut its Apple Watch app this Friday when the wearable device is released to the public.

The app will provide bite-sized news updates to your wrist, but a more unique feature is an experimental “tap to tip” function that lets users push a button when they see or hear a potential story around them.

Here’s a description of the feature from Breaking News, which is owned by NBC News but calls itself a “standalone startup” with a dozen journalists across Seattle, New York, London and Portland:

Let’s say you hear a big explosion, and you check Breaking News on your Watch. You scroll through the five stories, but there’s no news about it. That’s when you’ll see a big button that says, “See news near you? Tap to alert us.”

With a simple tap – and nothing more – you tip our editors to look for news near your location (it’s completely anonymous even to us). We’ll use our search tools to see if any news organizations, agencies or eyewitnesses are reporting any breaking news nearby. The more tips we receive in any given area, the more we’ll search.

When we find a story, we’ll publish it to people who are nearby, appearing on your Watch. If it’s a big story, we’ll send out a proximity alert, triggering a notification. All from just a simple tap.

The idea is to help editors at Breaking News become faster at spotting news that hasn’t hit the mainstream. If anything, this will be an interesting “citizen journalism” experiment for Breaking News, which traditionally feeds news and information to the user, rather than the other way around. The feature also builds on Breaking News’ emphasis on user location, as the mobile apps already allow people to receive notifications for nearby local news.

Breaking News’ Apple Watch app, which will show five news updates at a time, is one of many news-related apps set to deliver short updates to your wrist. Companies like the New York Times, CNN, the Washington Post, and others will also debut Apple Watch apps on Friday.

We’ll be highlighting other Apple Watch apps developed by Seattle-based companies later this week, so stay tuned for that.

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