NEW YORK (AP) - The breathless drama of the Times Square New Year's Eve countdown has gone miniature with an app showing the live drop of the celebration's famed ball.
The new version of the app, available on both Apple's iOS and Google's Android operating system, is simpler to use and more interactive than predecessors that emerged first at the close of 2010, said Jeffrey Straus, executive producer of Times Square New Year's Eve.
"I would like to eventually see the whole world counting down together," he said Tuesday, his wish discounting time zones. "We can do that through mobile devices."
Straus said about 469,000 people in 184 countries signed up for the app over the past four years, but he expects a significant bump in signups with the retooled app and its greater emphasis on interaction, including tweets between users and someone acting as the voice of the ball.
"The ball is a man of few words," he joked, though he quickly added: "It really is a conversation that goes on."
The free app shows the broadcast of the celebration and lets users customize to time zones.
The greater emphasis on electronics is a natural progression for the Times Square ball, Straus said. Fireworks at Times Square New Year's Eve celebrations beginning around 1904 dropped burning embers on revelers, leading the gathering's organizers to embrace electricity in 1907 in the form of a lighted ball, he said.
Now, the nearly 6-ton ball has grown in diameter to 12 feet and contains more than 32,000 light bulbs. Its 70-foot drop lasts a minute, famously counted out loud.
Straus said more people will be counting thanks to the app, wherever they are.
"It gets back to the heart of what Times Square New Year's eve is: truly a global celebration."