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Microsoft’s latest iPhone app keeps an eye on celebs

Do you need to know that Miley Cyrus “popped a squat” outside a backwoods cabin, and do you also need to see a picture of her doing it? Well, Microsoft has an iPhone app for you.

The company this weekend released a new entertainment app called Snipp3t, for iOS 7. The app lets users subscribe to news feeds about their favorite celebrities. Despite the example above, which showed up unsolicited in my feed, it’s actually a good little app for following your favorite personalities.

If you want to follow everything related to a particular person — everyone from Bill Nye to Kourtney Kardashian — you just search and press a button to subscribe to them, and get news about them in a simple scrolling feed.

In my limited usage this afternoon, I’ve found that it’s also an interesting way to follow sports through the lens of your favorite players, if they’re in the database. (Derek Jeter is, but Russell Wilson isn’t, oddly.)

The official site explains, “SNIPP3T [pronounced “snippet”] is a personalized and fun app that lets you stay up to date on the celebrities you care about most. With news, images, videos, social mentions, and individual profiles from across the web for over 10,000 celebrities, SNIPP3T is the only app that gives you a comprehensive view of celebrities that matter the most to you.”

OK, it’s a nice little app, the latest in a string of Microsoft apps for iPhone, but why did the company feel compelled to make this particular one? That is a mystery. We’ve contacted the company to find out more, and I’ll update this post depending on what we hear back.

To me it feels like either MSN or Microsoft Research, but I could be way off.

Update, Monday morning: Yes, I was way off. Snipp3t was developed by members of the Microsoft Bing team based in China. “SNIPP3T had its roots in a hack day, when a small team building the Bing News experience decided to do things differently,” the Snipp3t team explains in a blog post.

Snipp3t is is a free app, available for download here. It’s not available for Windows Phone or Android yet.

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