AOL offers new mobile portal, app

The first version of the AOL app is available to Android users

AOL Thursday opened a new smartphone portal and introduced an application that will initially be exclusive to Android.

The announcements are part of a renewed focus on mobile apps and content for AOL, spearheaded by David Temkin, the new vice president of mobile, the company said in a statement. Temkin recently left Palm, where he was in charge of the developer platform.

The new portal, accessed via a mobile phone at m.aol.com, was built to work on any mobile browser and lets users access AOL content from one spot. On phones with HTML5, including the iPhone and Android devices, people can use the touch interface to scroll through articles and applications, AOL said.

Previously, AOL's mobile portal was based on WAP (Wireless Application Protocol). WAP technology was initially designed to allow content providers to deliver Web content to phones, accommodating their small screens and slow connections. With the growth in more powerful phones and faster wireless connections, most content providers have been offering HTML-based content to mobile users.

Also like many other Internet content providers, AOL is offering an application as well as the Web-based portal. Starting with Android, it is offering the AOL app through which users can access AOL sites and services, including Engadget, MapQuest and AOL Mail. The app also includes a list that links directly to other available AOL apps for Android.

That list includes a DailyFinance app that AOL also announced is now available for Android. Already offered to iPhone and BlackBerry users, DailyFinance delivers stock quotes and financial news to users.

AOL was clear to note that it plans to continue to develop for multiple mobile platforms, but now that Android "has emerged as a top-tier smartphone platform," it decided to launch the AOL app first there, Temkin is quoted as saying in a statement.

AOL's mobile website, where people can find out more about the company's mobile offerings, seems to favor the iPhone, with four of five highlighted services on the site featuring the iPhone or iPad.

Internet content providers have been jockeying for a lead position among companies offering services to mobile users. Yahoo was an early developer of mobile applications and portals, frequently redesigning and updating its offerings over the past few years. Now Google, Microsoft, Apple and many others are targeting content and applications to mobile users.

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Nancy Gohring

IDG News Service
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