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AOL's Patch sites get iPhone app for hyperlocal news

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AOL has released an iPhone app for its Patch news sites. Patch.com offers hyperlocal news for more than 800 towns across America. Each location has one editor and uses a collection of freelance writers to report the news.

The idea behind Patch and other hyperlocal sites is that resident editors and writers can fill the void left by cash-strapped local newspapers, which, thanks to declining staff, no longer have the funds to cover all of the latest stuff in town.

Want to know the score of the high school football game? Patch can tell you that. Looking forward to that all-you-can-eat buffet bar opening? Patch has all the deets about the dessert items on the menu. For example, I grew up in the St. Louis suburb of Ballwin, where absolutely nothing happens. Ever. But opening up my Patch app right now, I can see that the Borders on Manchester Road just sold its last book this weekend. Yeah, that's not as exciting as what goes on here in London, but at the same time, it's incredibly cool that I can get such hyperlocal news from my hometown -- and now I can get it right on my iPhone.

The Patch app, released this week, features a handy dashboard screen that gives you quick access to your local weather, news, events and a directory of local businesses. It also offers a "Front 5" feature, which is a collection of the most relevant hyperlocal stories of the day. The app has a well-designed UI, and more importantly, the whole Patch concept is a lot more useful now that I can access it on my iPhone while out and about.

Patch for iPhone is a free download and requires an iPhone 3GS or later.

[Shout out to my Ballwin hommies: The Patch app just told me the Easter Bunny is appearing at Chesterfield Mall every day this week from noon to 1 PM. Rock on.]

Disclaimer: AOL is the parent company of TUAW.

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