The Washington Post on iPad

A few days ago, The Washington Post released an iPad app that gives you access to all of the paper’s content. Like the New York Times app, it’s free for now (as long as you register), but while the NYT hasn’t come out and said exactly when it will start charging, the Washington Post free trial ends in early February.

It’s interesting to see how the Washington Post has approached doing a newspaper app. Instead of the NYT‘s pop-up window to access sections — the only way you can do so — and then page flips to browse through articles excerpts within those sections, the Post goes the scrolling route. Each section is laid out like the front page of a newspaper, and you scroll down to see the excerpts — tapping an article also brings you to scrollable text, instead of the NYT‘s pages. I particularly like how you just swipe to the side to go from section to section — it’s a much easier way to quickly move through them.

As with the NYT app, one of the star features is how it deals with multimedia content, and here it again does the NYT one better by combining all photos and videos on one page, all laid out to see (above) — there’s a lot of flipping involved in going through galleries and videos in the NYT app. It’s kinda funny how one of the iPad’s first great apps, The Guardian Eyewitness, now comes off as quite sad these days, with its measly one photo a day content update.

Another feature I like is that it has a “Read Later” button that lets you save articles for reading at a later time — unlike the NYT that keeps articles in sections for a couple of days (even a week sometimes), with the Washington Post you access that day’s paper.


NYT iPad App Still Screwing Up Image Galleries

Why does the New York Times iPad app still do the thing you see pictured above, which is having an article that is supposed to be pretty much just a slideshow that shows up in another section, but with no slideshow or link to it. It always annoyed me with the Editor’s Choice version of the app, and there’s no reason that this should still happen, since I’ve seen articles in various sections that include a link to a proper slideshow.

If I keep bringing up errors in the NYT app it’s because I actually really enjoy the content, and it’s part of my daily routine to read the news on it, and I just want it to be a better app and not do stupid things anymore.

Magazines Photography Technology

LIFE for iPad

If you’re a fan of The Guardian Eyewitness app or event the “Photo” section of the NYT app, then you’ll probably find a lot to like from the new LIFE app for iPad. Available as a free download, it’s basically an interface to LIFE magazine’s amazing photo archives.

There are a few different ways to explore the collections, starting from an “Explorer” page that lets you dig in geographically, and then a few themed sections.

It’s not perfect though, and the biggest annoyance is the ad for LIFE services (pictured above) that pops up every few photos — it’s especially annoying because when it comes it actually moves the regular interface elements away, which makes for a jarring transition. There’s also a slight load time for every single photo you view, so it seems that they should have paid a bit more attention at keeping file sizes manageable.

But hey, it’s a free app, and there’s more to like here than to not like, so well worth a download.


The Times App

After my post the other day about the new NYT app, someone suggested I check out the one for The Times of London, since there’s a 30-day free trial — The Times app has been a very well known early proponent of not offering its content in app form (or web form) for free.

The first thing I encountered on the very first page was confusion caused by a non-linked item. It’s the page pictured above, and if you touch any of the news items you will go directly to the full article inside the issue, but for some reason that great big photo of Keith Richards, and even the headline below, doesn’t lead to anything. Yes, there is plenty of Richards-related content inside, but why not link to it? I spent some time trying to touch, double touch, and swipe away, as I couldn’t believe it was just a static item.

It’s nothing important, but I did like the way the large Times logo on the front page transitions into a smaller version as you swipe the page (I tried to capture the animation, and you can sort of see it in the image above, as it gets smaller). It’s just a nice little touch.

I did have a problem with the tight justified columns though — as you can see below, it makes for very ugly lines of text. I know we’re used to seeing this in a proper newspaper, but it doesn’t really work when you view it on a screen surface.

The biggest difference between The Times app and what the NYT app does is in terms of the way you work your way through the issue. While the NYT app simply adds new articles in each section, and they are then presented in summary form in a grid that usually includes between 5-9 pieces, here you not only download that day’s paper, you also have to swipe through every page, every section one after the other.

Sure, you can jump to different sections by accessing an index (pictured below), but since you are often just limited to a header and photo, it’s hard to tell if you really want to dig in. I do like scanning through a lot of news articles, and so the NYT format suits me best — there’s no way I’d want to have to flip through every article of the NYT. The fact that pretty much every single article in The Times leads with a large half-page (or more) photo does make it less painful, but still.

The other thing is that, with all the fuss that surrounded the launch of the app and the promise that it’s specifically formatted for iPad, I was expecting less of a template design and more creativity in layouts. But no, the vast majority of an issue follows the same look (you’ve seen pretty much all available layouts in the images included in this post). The only exception I found was for a feature at the end of the issue I downloaded that covered “Autumn Walks.” Pictured below, it does look rather nice, and I wish they would do more layouts like this.

Also part of the feature, they had great descriptions of routes to follow, and it’s only by flipping to landscape mode that you could see a beautiful photo from that walk (as seen below).

But in the end, if I don’t stick with The Times it’s not because of what I mentioned above or even the subscription price, but rather that it’s just too UK-centric for me in terms of its coverage.