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CNN makes bigger mobile push with new iPhone app

The wait for an official CNN app on your iPhone is over, and it looks like it was worth your patience. Available on the iTunes store soon -- Download here -- CNN's new app represents a serious investment in mobile news delivery, a 55 million user market according to Neilsen, and adds a few game changing features which may leave rivals MSNBC and Fox News scrambling to catch up.

I spoke with CNN's Louis Gump, VP, Mobile today by phone. CNN's iPhone app takes advantage of 3.0 SDK features and is an attempt to "reinvent news applications on the iPhone". Integrating a huge library of video clips -- as well a live stream during breaking news -- directly into the app, the focus is obvious, taking CNN's global news brand and putting it just that much closer to your fingertips.

The most compelling feature, from by brieding and screen shots -- I wasn't allowed early access to the app itself -- is what Gump called, "Coverflow for news." A feature which lets users swipe through pictures and bullet points, looking for points of interest in the days popular headlines.

Positioned as a premium app, you'll have to fork over $1.99 for the goods, and tolerate just a wee bit of advertising mixed with your content. From what was relayed to me -- and I pressed -- none of the advertising sounds particularly intrusive, with a total lack of preroll video advertising, and sponsor adds appearing inline with, but visually separated from, the textual content.

Also on tap, breaking news alerts for interests you've defined, the ability to store news for later (airplane mode) and of course, social sharing on Facebook, Twitter and via email. And, when you get sick of reading the news, you can make the news -- via iReport -- with mobile uploads of video and images. "People in the field really do have access to the most compelling content, whether that be photo or video", which will be vetted as the current web version of iReport is, both by user filtering and "a small percentage" by human editors at CNN for airing on the network, or publishing on the main CNN site.

CNN was a bit coy about future plans, but said in uncertain terms, "This is not a hobby for us." Adding, "As happy as we are with this app, and we worked really hard, there is a lot more where this came from."

Asked about a possible Android or Blackberry version, "We will definitely be rolling out premium apps in the future", although Gump declined to talk specifics. "We're experimenting" said Gump, sounding like a proud father, "we're putting a lot more resources into mobile."

Update : I wasn't positive at publish time, but yes -- Push updates! More screenshots coming, now that I have my hands on the app!

Update 2: The gallery above is shots provided by CNN. The gallery below contains our first screenshots of the app in action. Take a look for more detail on how the app works and looks.

Tags: CNN, features, iPhone, mobile, reviews