Tag Archives: apps

Circa news app shows liveblogging’s rise and rise

Circa news app - image from TechCrunch

Circa news app – image from TechCrunch

Just how dominant can the liveblog format become? In Model for the 21st Century Newsroom Redux I noted how quickly the format has been adopted as a default mode of reporting (for example, how widely the format was being used to report on public sector strikes).

In March 2012 the relaunch of the ITV News website saw the format adopted as the default mode of presentation.

In August The Guardian’s horizontally-navigated Olympics liveblog caught my eye.

Now news app Circa is taking the concept back onto mobile (where most liveblogging starts), and adding a few twists, including push updates. Continue reading

Review: Transcribe – a free browser-based app to make audio transcription easier

Antoinette Siu takes a look at a new free app which promises to make transcribing audio easier.

Transcribing audio is one of the most time-consuming tasks in a journalist’s job. Switching between the audio player and the text editor, rewinding every 20 seconds in, typing frantically to catch every syllable—repeating these steps back and forth, and back and forth… in an age of so much automation, something isn’t quite right.

A new Chrome app tool called Transcribe lets you do all that in one screen. With keyboard shortcuts and an audio file uploader, you can easily go back and forth between your sound and text. Continue reading

New Facebook news apps: bring the news to your users, or invite users to your news?

There’s a salient quote in Journalism.co.uk’s report on Facebook’s  “new class of news apps” launched today:

“As we worked with different news organisations there were two camps: people that wanted to bring the social experience onto their sites, like Yahoo [News] and the Independent; and those that wanted the social news experience on Facebook, like Guardian, the Washington Post and the Daily,” director of Facebook’s platform partnerships Christian Hernandez told Journalism.co.uk.

So which is better? An initial play with the apps of The Independent and The Guardian appears to demonstrate the difference well. Here, for example, is the Facebook app widget as it appears on The Independent – or rather, as it almost appears: various other editorial and commercial choices push it onto the fold:

The Independent's new Facebook App in action

The Guardian app, meanwhile, hands over editorial control to the users in a customarily clean design:

Guardian Facebook app

But hold on, what’s this in my news/activity/information overload stream next to The Guardian’s article?

The Guardian news app with Independent stories in the user's news stream

It appears that The Independent app takes the news to the users as well. Continue reading

Interview: Nicolas Kayser-Bril, head of datajournalism at Owni.fr

Past OJB contributor Nicolas Kayser-Bril is now in charge of datajournalism at Owni.fr, a recently launched news site that defines itself as an “open think-tank”.

“Acting as curators, selecting and presenting content taken deep in the immense and self-expanding vaults of the internet,” explains Nicolas, “the Owni team links to the best and does the rest.”

I asked Nicolas 2 simple questions on his work at Owni. Here are his responses:

What are you trying to do?

What we do is datajournalism. We want to use the whole power of online and computer technologies to bring journalism to a new height, to a whole new playing field. The definition remains vague because so little has been made until now, but we don’t want to limit ourselves to slideshows, online TV or even database journalism.

Take the video game industry, for instance. In the late 1970’s, a personal computer could be used to play Pong clones or text-based games. Since then, a number of genres have flourished, taking action games to 3D, building an ever-more intelligent AI for strategy games, etc. In the age of the social web, games were quick to use Facebook and even Twitter.

Take the news industry. In the late 1970’s, you could read news articles on your terminal. In the early 2010’s you can, well… read articles online! How innovative is that? (I’m not overlooking the innovations you’ll be quick to think of, but the fact remains that most online news content are articles.)

We want to enhance information with the power of computers and the web. Through software, databases, visualizations, social apps, games, whatever, we want to experiment with news in ways traditional and online media haven’t done yet.

What have you achieved?

We started to get serious about this in February, when I joined the mother company (22mars) full-time. In just a month, we have completed 2 projects

The first one, dubbed Photoshop Busters (see it here), gives users digital forensics tools to assess the authenticity of an image. It was made as a widget for one of our partners, LesInrocks.com.

More importantly, we made a Facebook app, Where do I vote? There, users can find their polling station and their friends’ for the upcoming regional election in France.

It might sound underwhelming, but it required finding and locating the addresses of more than 35,000 polling stations.

On top of convincing a reluctant administration to hand over their files, we set up a large crowdsourcing effort to convert the documents from badly scanned PDFs to computer-readable data. More than 7,000 addresses have been treated that way.

Dozens of other ideas are in the works. Within Owni.fr, we want to keep the ratio of developers/non-developers to 1, so as to be able to go from idea to product very quickly. I code most of my ideas myself, relying on the team for help, ideas and design.

In the coming months, we’ll expand our datajournalism activities to include another designer, a journalist and a statistician. Expect more cool stuff from Owni.fr.

Data.gov.uk and the ASBOrometer – video interview

Here’s a video interview by Conrad Quilty-Harper with the creator of the ASBOrometer app for iPhone and Android. The app pulls information available through Data.gov.uk, allowing you to see levels of antisocial behaviour (and other data) near you. More broadly he talks about the potential of data.gov.uk going forward. Obvious implications for local and hyperlocal journalism…

Charging for mobile content – Steve Outing on the Men’s Health iPhone app

Steve Outing highlights how Men’s Health are exploring the new features of the 3.0 iPhone/iPod Touch operating system:

“Now, in addition to charging for the app itself, publishers can charge for additional (premium) content from within the app.

“Here’s how it works with the Men’s Health app: Once on your iPhone, you get 18 workouts that the application guides you through and records your progress. Men’s Health also sells additional workouts, called “Expansion Packs”: for example, “Huge Arms in a Hurry” for 99 cents; “The Ultimate Golf Workout Series” for $1.99; “The Ultimate Abs Pack” for $1.99; and “Build a Beach Ready Body” for 99 cents.”

Outing then explores what news organizations could charge for within an iPhone app (much more detail on his post):

  1. One-off premium purchases
  2. Enable premium services for an added fee
  3. Delay the news by an hour
  4. 99 cents gets you a basic news app with advertising. Pay an extra $4.99 inside the app to upgrade it to the no-advertising version.
  5. A paid upgrade that delivers alerts of various happenings (news event, house sold, apartment burglarized, road construction detour installed, etc.) within a user-selectable mile radius of your house.

Steve is inviting more ideas on his post.

More support for my ‘Fantasy Football as future of news’ hypothesis

Last September in ‘Why fantasy football may hold the key to the future of news‘ I wrote that data was one of the few advantages that news organisations have, and they should be doing more with it. A piece in today’s ReadWriteWeb adds a little commercial stardust to that hypothesis:

MLB.com’s already wildly successful iPhone app [has] a $10 price tag that sports fans are apparently happy to pay, this could provide a great model for other struggling media to find an important new revenue stream – and not just because it charges for content. “… Any media outlet that can leverage statistics and data visualization as a central part of its coverage would be well served to put those visualizations in an iPhone app and sell it. The iPhone and Android platforms are brilliant for scrolling and zooming through layers of data in ways that print, TV and radio could only dream of. Mobile, touchscreen and hand-held beats a web page on the desktop computer too for data visualization.”

Amen to that.

Whenever I do sessions with people in the industry about online business models I show them The Guardian’s Chalkboard. That for me is a prime candidate for a premium mobile app (assuming there are no licensing issues) – not just because of the data, but because it is social. News orgs take note.

How to build an iPhone app

You may have seen this on Mashable, but equally, you may not, so I thought I’d pass it on. Demonstrating the value of being open about your processes (because this document will now be viewed by thousands of people), PhotoKast created this 37-page guide to how they developed their iPhone app. Very useful reading if you’re thinking of doing something for iPhones.

Building PhotoKast: Creating an iPhone app in one month

N97 gets touch screen – but here are 10 reasons the iPhone already sucks compared with the N95

Nokia have unveiled the N97 and Robert Scoble makes a compelling case for its superiority over the iPhone. Curiously, many of his points mirror ones I had prepared in a blog post comparing the iPhone to the N95, giving me the perfect excuse to finally publish it.

The iPhone is overrated. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Yes, it’s got great usability, but for a journalist it just doesn’t compete. And here are 10 reasons why:

  1. A crappy camera. 2 megapixels is terrible – the N95 has 5. Not to mention auto-focus, flash, etc. etc.
  2. No video camera. Inexcusable in the YouTube age. Yes there are workarounds but…
  3. You have to jailbreak the iPhone to use streaming services like Qik. Installing Qik (or Bambuser, or Shozu) on the N95 is pretty straightforward. The fact you have to jailbreak the iPhone at all says a lot about Apple’s attitude. Nokia’s Symbian operating system is open (if not open source yet).
  4. You can’t save webpages. Once again, you can on the N95.
  5. No alternative browser. Opera Mini is great on the N95.
  6. Battery power. You can at least have a spare battery for the N95.
  7. No recording of audio. You can on an N95, and email it to Posterous for instant podcast.
  8. Walled garden for apps. Apps on the N95? Get them anywhere, without the worry that Nokia will lock them out in the future.
  9. Fiddly keyboard. Particularly difficult when there are…
  10. No external keyboards. You can buy a number of cute bluetooth keyboards for the N95 which make it possible to type updates and blog posts very quickly.
And that’s not to mention bloody expensive. If you know of any solutions to these weaknesses, let me know. You see, I do have an iPod Touch…