FT Mobile Review

Our Review by Kyle Flanigan on July 15th, 2010
Rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar :: OUTSTANDING
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One of the oldest news organizations branches into the portable world, offering something that surpassed high expectations.

Developer: Financial Times
Price: FREE
Version: 1.4

Design Rating: starstarstarstarstar
Features Rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar
Integration Rating: starstarstarstarstar

Overall Rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar

Reviewer's note: looking for the iPad edition review? Click here.

The Financial Times application is almost always to be found in the Top 10 free apps in the News section of both the iPhone and iPad store, with good reason. It is, as the category suggests, a fully-fledged news application bringing you up to date news and information. It also offers live market data from around the world (equities, currencies, bonds - the list goes on). Readers of the paper edition will appreciate just how condensed but functional this application is.

The interface of the application is divided into four main sections. Up top is a menu bar offering refresh, search and account information (search allows for both news and quotes). Below it lies the sliding news category bar. FT Mobile was one of, if not the first, to implement this style of category viewing found on so many news applications today. All categories (Home, World, Markets etc) are available at the flick of a finger horizontally. This serves the advantage of allowing the content to take full precedence on the iPhone's screen.

The bulk of the screen is taken up by the content itself. Articles are titled and summarized, and clicking on them will remove all unnecessary frills and give you the content and little else. Whenever you read an article, text size is adjustable. Lastly, at the bottom you'll find the iOS-standard tab bar allowing you to switch between different sections of the application. News is the obvious one, but you can also find tabs to FT's official podcasts, market data, your own portfolio and a useful currency converter. Podcasts are in-built much like the way you can preview a song on iTunes on your iPhone. A welcome feature on both the iPhone and iPad versions.

The markets tab offers a generous amount of information, mimicking what can be found on the web page itself. Global overviews, indices summaries, currencies, commodities and bonds are all available with a single tap. Everything is colour-coded (green for up, red for down) for easy viewing.

The FT has managed to create something unique. Every minute detail, however small it may be, seems crafted for the iPhone perfectly. It's as if one was built for the other. The application needs no instructions because everything is how - and where - you expect it to be. The user experience is seamless, something that is essential in an application where content is at the forefront of its priorities.

And the price for all of this? Nothing. Well, sort of. The application on both the iPhone and iPad is free to download, and a free account will allow you to read ten articles per month. To reap the full benefits of the application, a standard or premium account is required. A standard account will give you virtually unlimited access (everything but Lex if you're using your subscription for iPhone or iPad usage). A premium account is a little more expensive but that includes the paper edition and access to exclusive Lex articles too.

There are a few drawbacks. The lack of push notifications for breaking news is a sad omission that many competitors - such as CNN - offer. In addition, there are no videos to be found in the iPhone version when there is in the iPad (likewise downloadable content for offline viewing). Regardless of your subscription, ads exist. However, their neat integration and smooth colours usually do not distract from any reading.

In conclusion, the FT Mobile application is rich, succinct and integrated flawlessly. Its only real drawback is its long run cost. Bloomberg's application, although less visually appealing and with different writers, is free. Unless you are a financially savvy or business user who makes use of exclusive FT articles, it's perhaps worth looking at alternatives. But as a student of Finance, I find it invaluable.

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