Tag Archives: mobile

iPhone News Apps Compared

We’re all being told that mobile is the next big thing for news, but what does it mean to have a good mobile news application? Jonathan Stray reports.

Just as an online news site is a lot more than a newspaper online, a mobile news application is a lot more than news stories on a small screen. The better iPhone news apps integrate multimedia, social features, personalization, and push notifications.

Not all apps get even the basics right. But a few are pushing the boundaries of what mobile news can be, with innovative new features such as info-graphic displays of hot stories, or integrated playlists for multimedia.

Here is my roundup of 14 iPhone news offerings. I’ve included many of the major publishers, some lesser known applications, and a few duds for comparison.

NYTimes
The New York Times Company
Free

The New York Times iPhone application

The New York Times iPhone application

The Times doesn’t do anything new with this application, but they do everything fairly well.

The app is designed around a vertical list stories, with a headline, lede, and photo thumbnail for each. Stories are organized into standard news sections, plus the alway interesting “Most Popular.”   Banner ads sometimes appear at the bottom, plus occasional interstitial ads when appear when you select a story.

The focus of the news is of course American. There’s no personalization of news content based either on interest or location, which may well prove to be a standard feature for mobile news applications. Fortunately, the app includes a search function, though it only seems to go a few days back.

Downloaded articles are available when the device is offline, which is a useful feature. Favorites stories can be saved, or shared via email, text message, Twitter, and Facebook.

The UI has a few quirks. The “downloading news” progress bar is expected, but the sometimes equally long “processing news” phase makes me wonder what the app is doing. The photos in a story very sensibly download after the text, but the scroll position jumps when the photo appears,which is hugely annoying.

There’s little innovation or differentiation here, but the experience is smooth.

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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.

Mobile phones as servers – one to watch

One of those rather dry-sounding reports on TechCrunch that some-company-has-raised-some-investment-for-some-technology caught my eye recently, because in par 2 comes this:

“Conveneer is building a mobile platform called Mikz, which will be able to assign a URL to your mobile phone, making the content on your phone accessible on the Web. In essence, it turns each mobile phone into a Web server. Once your phone has a URL like http://joe.mikz.me, other Web applications and services can ingest the data that is locked in your phone, and also your phone can take advantage of common Web APIs. Mikz can pull information off your phone such as your contacts, GPS coordinates, photos, music, ringtones, and other files. It creates a Web interface for your phone.”

Now, it’s one thing to realise that your typical phone now is more powerful than the PCs of a decade ago, but the real power in computers is their networked nature. This technology – if realised – could open up some incredible possibilities. One that immediately occurs is the possibility to make data on phones searchable -mash that up with GPS data and you can imagine saying ‘Find me images or video on mobile phones within 30 miles of today’s major news event’.

There are likely many more possibilities – and I’d welcome your input here on what this would make possible…