The BBC has released an updated version of its News app for big-screen Android tablets, and is available to download for free from the Android Market in the UK.

“This follows the success of the BBC News app for Android smartphones, which has been downloaded more than 3 million times globally since launching last year,” said Kate Milner, BBC’s Mobile Product Manager for News, Future Media, in an announcement this afternoon.

The Android News app launched in May last year and was available on all Android phones and tablets running software versions 1.6 and above, but it didn’t support Honeycomb tablets – those with Android software version 3.0.

This latest incarnation of the app gives an optimised experience for larger tablets – devices running Honeycomb and above. Smaller 7.1-inch tablets will sill receive the non-optimized smartphone app.

BBCNews Android Tablet App 520x355 The BBC launches its Android News app for Honeycomb tablets

Working on both 3G and WiFi, the app can be personalized in the same way as the smartphone version can, with users able to select which news feeds they receive – sport, technology, business, science and so on. The app also provides On Demand video within stories.

Milner added that support for News Channel live will be added in a later release of the app, whilst it’s working on introducing homescreen widgets too.

“Growing numbers of people are accessing BBC News on mobiles and tablets,” says Milner. “In an average week, the BBC News sites and apps are visited by around 9.7m users worldwide on mobile and tablet devices. That represents about 26% of the total. The BBC News product development team will be working on further mobile and tablet improvements over the coming year.”

The iPhone and iPad version of the app secured nearly 3 million downloads in the UK alone between launch in mid-2010 and May last year. It notched up a further 3 million downloads internationally with the global version of its iOS News app.

The Android app was only available to UK users at first, but BBC Worldwide rolled out an international version a few weeks after the UK launch last year. And the new large-screen optimized version of the app will be rolled out shortly for international users too.

BBC News App