CNA’s ideology was not just to provide information but an understanding as well. Keeping this vision in mind OnGraph’s mobile app development team designed and developed the Channel News Asia native Android and iOS apps using Java and Objective-C programming languages respectively. PHP was used to do the backend coding with MySQL database.
The app requirement included some unique set of features. Apart from showing breaking news alerts and the daily digest of news from around the world, we built the live video streaming and TV shows feature for users to catch up with news on the go. To make things further interesting for users, we developed a feature where users could get notifications for real-time news coverage. We provided users with the option to create their own dynamic news feed where they will get only trending news around the topics of interest selected by them.
We implemented a Podcast feature for CNA to bring insightful interviews and expert analyses of global news and events through podcasts. Along with having a personalised news feed we also implemented a feature called customised alerts or notifications, where users can select the topics for which they would like to receive notifications. We also added a bookmark feature so that users can save news, stories, videos and podcasts for later.
Channel News Asia is a feature rich app and developing each of these features with utmost care for both Android and iOS apps was highly complex. OnGraph’s mobile app developers faced quite a few challenges while building this app from scratch. Some of these challenges are described below:
Client wanted to ensure an uninterrupted news feature i.e. whether a user is connected to the internet or not they will still be able to read the piece of latest news they are interested in.
Since CNA was going to be available in the Asian region, the Middle East and Australia, the client wanted to provide users with the option of experiencing the app in their native or preferred language.
The client wanted to make sure that users get to see the latest news and events in real time. For this we had to add a live tv option for users, so that they don’t miss out on the news of their interest.
An app like Channel News Asia is not just expensive to build but also requires money to keep producing and hosting content not to mention to enhance and maintain the app as the user base grows.
OnGraph’s team was committed to address the above mentioned challenges with innovative solutions. Each challenge was discussed in detail among the development team and various solutions were laid out before picking the most suitable solution. The solutions are described in details below:
To handle the connectivity issue, we added an offline reading feature so that users can read the news irrespective of whether or not they are connected to the internet. To achieve this feature we designed a local database where we saved the news and this local database kept syncing with the cloud database when the user has connectivity. So that in offline mode the app will still show the latest news.
To provide users with an option to choose the app language, we wrote a translator at the server side so that each piece of news saved by the admin in the database automatically converts in all the listed language options. We also introduced a feature where the admin could correct the translated copy manually. On the app side we used Core Location SDK so that we can get the current location of the user and accordingly we can detect the current country and show the news in the native language.
We added the Live TV feature for users to watch news in real time. Users can see a list of upcoming live streams and select the one they want to watch. For the live TV feature we wrote the WebRTC Streaming Protocols and encoded them using RTMP encoder, RTMP, RTSP players with session control
We used TVOD for this which is basically a transactional video on demand: where consumers purchase content on a pay-per-view basis. There are two sub-categories, known as electronic sell-through (EST), where you pay once to gain permanent access to a piece of content. We also added AVOD i.e Ad-Supported Video on Demand. AVOD is free to consumers, however, much like broadcast television, consumers need to sit through advertisements. AVOD can be seen in action while watching DailyMotion, or YouTube, where ad revenue is used to cover production as well as hosting costs.