For many businesses, the ever-increasing pressures of keeping pace with the latest advances in technology often makes them feel like they’re falling behind.

But officials at the AFRO American Newspapers and its bureaus in Washington and Baltimore are keenly aware they must keep up in order to remain on the cutting edge of their profession.

With that in mind, publisher Jake Oliver recently announced the paper’s launch of a new, free application giving readers access to breaking news from their iPhone.

Also known as a smartphone, the sleek rectangular device works more like a palmtop computer than a cell phone, and as with many smartphones, it provides owners the choice of watching movies, listening to music, browsing the web and sending e-mails and text messages.

“[The iPhone application] is an important first step for us in our quest to make the AFRO far more available to people who need to have quick access to their news,” Oliver said.

AFRO Web Manager William Parschalk added that the new application will enable readers full access to news from District of Columbia, Prince George’s County and Baltimore, as well as sports and national issues.

“This is a great way for us to connect with readers on the go,” Parschalk said. “We'd like readers to have as many options as possible to access their AFRO news . . . as new technology and mediums of communication continue to open up.”

Oscar Robinson, a Radio Shack manager in Northeast Washington, said smartphones are becoming the latest trend among cellular customers.

“All phones are essentially becoming smartphones because they can do so much,” said Robinson. “They have operating systems that are usually going to be Android, Windows or Safari – which means that they run on their own networks to give owners better access to many of the latest applications.”

While readers’ access to the new application would not necessarily put the AFRO ahead of the times, being the first Black newspaper to showcase this technological innovation nevertheless makes this a significant event.

“It’s not too many weeklies that we’re aware of that have iPhone applications at all, and as far as I can tell, we’re the first African-American newspaper to have such,” Oliver said. “But we’ve always recognized new technology as being an important tool to better serve the ever changing needs of our readership.”

Oliver assured that implementation of the application will have no bearing on readers who prefer hard copies of the AFRO.

“People will still be able to buy the AFRO where they normally pick it up.” Oliver said.

“But additionally, this new iPhone application will facilitate greater access to the growing volume of current late breaking news we continue to post on our website,” he continued. “Among the many programs we currently have on the drawing board is the ultimate expansion of this new IPhone application to other smartphone platforms and eventually to the iPad and other tablet formats as well. Our objective continues to be to expansively deliver the information news to the our community.”

Click here to view the AFRO News iPhone Application on iTunes.