TORONTO Revelers who can't make it to New York's Times Square to celebrate New Year's Eve can download an app to make sure they see the ball drop.
More than a million people from around the world flock to the famous area in midtown Manhattan which hosts one of the world's largest New Year's Eve celebrations. Another billion across the globe tune in on their televisions.
"It's one moment where 100 million Americans are all doing the same thing at the same time. They're all counting down to the same time thing," said Jeff Straus, president of New York City-based Countdown Entertainment, which organizes the annual event.
With the Times Square Ball app for iPhone and Android, people not near a television can tune in to the festivities from their smartphones. The app features a live six-hour webcast that will be available on New Year's Eve, with behind-the-scenes interviews, musical performances, countdowns and the fall of the Times Square Ball.
"We created the app because there's a whole other audience that can't be near their televisions or are overseas, but still want to be part of it and count down those final seconds with us," said Straus.
The app will include tweets from the Times Square Ball, which will be tweeting news and photos of the event from its perch high above the crowds.
"The ball's history goes back to 1907 when we had the first ball drop. It was basically a 5-foot (1.5-meter) ball of iron and wood with 100 125-watt light bulbs in it, which was the latest in lighting technology," said Straus.
It has been re-designed seven times since then. Over the years, computer controls and other features like strobe lights have been added.
The ball, which has been dropped every year since 1907 except for 1942 and 1943, is now over 12 feet in diameter, weighs nearly 6 tons and is adorned with over 32,000 LED lights in varied colors, according to the Times Square Alliance, white works to improve and promote the area.
The free app also has a countdown that can be configured to different time zones and is available worldwide.
People who want to join in on the fireworks on New Year's Eve in the London can download the free London New Year's Eve fireworks app for iPhone and Android created by the UK-based company Vodafone.
The app overlays the fireworks on display on the banks of the River Thames onto the smartphone camera. Its app will be released on December 30 at midnight.
(Editing by Patricia Reaney and Eric Walsh)