After months of rumors surrounding its launch date - and whether it actually existed at all - Facebook has finally launched Notify, a standalone iOS app that delivers the latest news notifications and alerts (based on user preference) onto your iPhone's lock screen.

"Everyone has different interests, so whether you're into sports, celebrities, news, movies, music or shopping, Notify makes it easy to find notifications you're into with a broad selection of great "stations" across a variety of categories," said Julian Gutman, Facebook's product manager.

Users can receive their notifications from a list of 72 sources, including CNN, The Weather Channel, Bloomberg, Comedy Central, Vevo and the New York Times. Notify will also provide station suggestions to users based on their Facebook profile.

Additionally, it's possible to get notifications based on category as well as by specific publishers, meaning that the app can, for example, update you on the latest score of your favorite team, or give you the local weather report every morning.

Unlike an RSS feed, users don't get to read anything within Notify. Instead, when a user receives a notification they simply have to interact with it - at their convenience - in order to open the article on the publisher's website in the browser.

Notify is yet another news-focused service from a large tech company in what is fast becoming a very crowded market; Apple News, Twitter's Moments, LinkedIn's Pulse, and even Facebook's own Instant Articles are all designed to bring the latest news stories to users.

"Notifications are becoming one of the primary ways people first learn about things wherever they are," Facebook said. Whether people will be happy to receive yet more notifications on their smartphones, or simply prefer to stick with Facebook's newsfeed to get their breaking headlines, remains to be seen.

Notify is available in the iTunes App Store. For now, availability is limited to the US and iOS.