Microsoft releases celebrity tracking app for iPhone

Here's a head scratcher -- Microsoft launched a free new iOS app called Snipp3t (pronounced "snippet") over the weekend. The app lets you subscribe to your favorite celebrity, thereafter providing a personalized stream of headlines and social media feeds about them. You can also offer your own thoughts about these famous people and see what other fans have to say.

There are a lot of celebrities already present in the app. You don't have to be alive, or even popular to qualify. Charles Manson popped up on the list, along with some other questionable choices. There are two kinds of searches. You can do a simple search, which seems to be just a plain old Bing Search, or you can subscribe, which requires a Facebook login. You also can only connect to other fans through Facebook.

Why Microsoft is in the celebrities app business is a mystery to me. So far, the app is iOS-only, but surely Windows phone and Android versions will follow. Of course Microsoft has all sorts of iOS apps; there are games like Tentacles and Ms. Explosion Man. There's Microsoft OneNote, Office Mobile, and Photosynth. Maybe Microsoft is hedging its bets on the not-so-popular Windows Phone, or the company just wants to make sure it has offerings for iOS users. Some of the apps are free, some are paid apps. By my count, there are 35 apps from Microsoft in the App Store, a considerable number.

Snipp3t is OK as far as it goes. If you don't want to go through Facebook for the personalization, it's basically a front end for Bing to do searches.

Snipp3t is not universal, and it requires iOS 7 or later. It is optimized for the iPhone 5.