Before I start in on CNN’s new iPhone app, CNN Mobile, let me just say two things about it: No, it’s not free ($2), and yes, it’s worth paying for.

Now that this is out of the way, let me explain.

CNN’s foray into mobile phone apps — freshly launched this week — features live newscasts, video-on-demand, good design and an easy-to-use interface. There are even push notifications let you know when live newscasts are available, and you can watch breaking news over Wifi, 3G or EDGE. And it still offers text and photo content, so it’s not sacrificing features that users may still want.

There’s a headline section, where you can go through text stories and photos, and each story shows a short summary and pic. A short swipe down, and you’ve got the whole article. In landscape, news browsing becomes sweet, thanks to CoverFlow. And for those moments when you just can’t believe what you saw, you can send a news item to a friend via Twitter, Facebook, email, or text message.

There’s also a save-for-offline reading feature, customized weather info and keyword searching. For budding reporters, there’s also direct upload to CNN’s iReports for pics (iPhone 3G) and vids (3G S).

If I seem kind of enthusiastic about CNN Mobile — well, I am. Breaking stories. Live newscasts. These words make me giddy. Generally, mobile phone software labelled “TV” or “news” come up short for me, since they just usually deliver short snippets of old podcasts, vidcasts or text-driven articles. But live newscasts for breaking stories, not to mention on-demand vids for recent news — well, this is what I’ve been waiting for.

Now I’m not saying this is a perfect app. When you pay two dollars (which is a lot in the App Store), you don’t expect ads. But let’s face it: Selling this software isn’t really going to make or break CNN. Like any television network, it’s supported by advertising, so people accessing CNN on their handsets will be subject to them, just like their TV-watching, cable-paying counterparts. But the good news is that mobile phone users won’t be bombarded with them. There are no commercials interrupting the segments, just still ads that pop up while the video loads.

So, if you can put up with the occasional promo, then I think this app is a winner. So much so that I wonder why it took so long for CNN to put this out. NPR, Reuters, Time, Associated Press, New York Times and Financial Times have been all over the iPhone, and with free apps at that. Well, no matter. It is worth the wait and expense. CNN Mobile beats the pants off the competition. And isn’t that what the world of news reporting is about anyway?

To get CNN Mobile, click here to go to the App Store page. (U.S. only, for now).

[via Macworld]

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