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SPUN: City News Review

Posted by Rob Rich on December 24th, 2012
iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad

Developer: Broadcastr, Inc
Price: FREE
Version: 1.0.1
App Reviewed on: iPhone 3GS

iPhone Integration Rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar
User Interface Rating: starstarstarstarblankstar
Re-use / Replay Value Rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar


Print media is having a fairly rough time of it these days. Newspapers are suffering, magazines are shutting down left and right, all because of digital content. It’s a shame, then, to think about how apps like SPUN: City News could end up being the final nail in the coffin. Although it’s good news (no pun intended) for the app I guess.

SPUN acts as the area’s local newspaper tucked neatly on a mobile device. It uses location services to determine the user’s city, then fills their screen with recent news items. Of course there’s a bit more to it than that. Articles are divided up into several categories including Top Stories, Arts & Entertainment, Food & Drink, and Lifestyle. Much like a physical newspaper, really. Each page is actually one side of a cube, and users can swipe left and right between them as needed. They can also swipe down to scroll through older stories to see what they’ve missed. Users can mark their favorites and leave comments as well.

Having a bunch of current local stories on hand is great in itself, but SPUN offers a bit more than that. In addition to all the information, each story is flagged with a location. Any favorites a user marks can also be set to sound off an alert if they come within a certain distance, so if someone spots an interesting item about a new restaurant they can check the handy map that pops up above the story for directions and even get a heads-up once they get close.

It’s strange though, for all of SPUN’s intuitiveness it seems to be missing a couple of obvious features. The most immediately noticeable is the inability to simply tap the top of the screen to immediately scroll back up to the top of the list. Virtually every other interactive bit of iOS media does this, so why not here? And while I’m on the subject, where’s that “pull down to refresh” feature I’ve gotten so used to? The absence of these two interface options aren’t deal breakers, but they’re certainly a glaring omission. And, of course, there are currently only four categories to flip between. No sports, no movie listings, no political section, etc.

SPUN: City News is a fairly ambitious app, and it does what it’s meant to rather well, but it’s not quite up to snuff when compared to its printed counterparts. With a few more categories and some basic interface options it could be quite the contender, though.

Daily Weather Review

iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad
By Rob Rich on September 10th, 2012
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: SLIGHTLY MORE FORM THAN FUNCTION
Daily Weather is a slick-looking app with an emphasis on style. Fortunately it does usefulness pretty well, too.
Read The Full Review »

PressReader's SmartFlow makes Reading Newspapers more Enjoyable

Posted by Lisa Caplan on January 12th, 2012
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad

Aggregators are great, but for those who love print news, PressReader has a library of thousands of newspapers from around the world, exactly as they appear in print and in over 50 languages. PressReader has always been feature-rich, including auto-delivery of favorite papers, read-aloud, pinch-to-zoom, lots of sharing options and other features common to reading and news apps. In version 3.0, they have added the feature I have been hoping to see: SmartFlow.

SmartFlow gives readers a more polished and fluid iPad magazine feel. Stories are presented using the full screen to maximum advantage. Readers can now glide through the stories, expanding those of interest without page-hopping, allowing readers to focus on what is of interest and discover stories they may have otherwise skipped. Font size is scalable and changing it neatly realigns columns.

Papers from the vast catalog can be purchased singly or subscriptions open the entire library. For news from around the world and around the corner, PressReader brings print papers to iOS in an inviting fashion, and offers hope that newspapers don’t have to go the way of the Dodo.

New York Post Offering In-App Subscriptions

Posted by Brad Hilderbrand on October 15th, 2010
iPad App - Designed for iPad

Those who love newspapers but hate getting ink on their fingers will be delighted to hear that the New York Post has launched a new app which will make all the paper's contents available on the iPad. Furthermore, the app was built with customization and social media in mind, allowing users to decide what stories they want to see on their own virtual front page, and easily sharing stories, video and photos with friends via email, Facebook and Twitter.

Even more newsworthy is the fact that the New York Post app is the first of its kind to offer in-app subscriptions. Those who purchase the app for $1.99 will receive 30 days of access to the Post, with the option to extend their subscription at any time for $6.99 a month or $74.99 a year. Those who choose to read the New York Times or other periodicals online must either buy each issue separately or subscribe to either the online or physical print service. This is the first app-specific subscription on record.

Given the precarious state of newspapers, we're crossing our fingers for the Post in the hopes that this works and might also serve as a model for other papers around the world. If people are willing to read a "paper" on their iPad and the Post sees sufficient subscriptions then the newspaper may not be dead, merely different. Still, this app seeks to combine the best of both worlds with traditional newspaper reporting but with an emphasis on new media and embracing the very technology which once threatened to destroy the printed word.

[via iLounge]

[itmsapp: 378590820?mt=8#]

Komos Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Chris Kirby on July 18th, 2010
Our rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar :: COMICAL
Komos provides easy access to daily newspaper comic strips and editorial cartoons, and does so in a simple and elegant way.
Read The Full Review »

iOS: The 21st Century's Printing Press?

Posted by Zach Sims on July 7th, 2010

I've written in the past about the iPad's impact on the magazine industry, but the iPad remains just as important to newspapers as it is to magazines. The Congressional Research Service's 2009 report on the newspaper industry found that this could be the "worst financial crisis [for the newspaper industry] since the Great Depression." Tablets and new form factors have brought new hope to the industry and many newspapers have made the iPad a crucial pillar in their digital strategy. Beyond paywalls, the iPad represents a significant potential revenue source. The iPad's release has brought with it scores of digital newspapers, among them storied brands like the New York Times, the Financial Times, and the Times of London.

[caption id="attachment_40896" align="alignright" width="225" caption="The WSJ App\'s Front Page"]

[/caption]New Form Factor, New Opportunities
The iPad is one of the first computing platforms to mimic the form factor of magazines and newspapers. Many newspapers have tried to port their publications to the iPad while maintaining many of the same visual styles and layouts that their readers are accustomed to. Some attempt to add interactivity in the same manner WIRED Magazine did, with the occasional slideshow and manipulable photographs.

Yet despite the traditionalism of most of the newspaper apps, I've found them invaluable. No longer is it necessary to carry a newspaper or two around. The iPad is an invaluable companion on a commute. I've found myself downloading all three of my favorite newspapers (the WSJ, FT, and NYT) in the morning and reading them all on the train. It really is terrific to have the iPad function as an all-in-one book, newspaper, and magazine reader. The Kindle may have the ability to download newspapers, but its functionality is nowhere near as robust as that provided by the iPad.

Highlights and Disappointments
The Financial Times application has been my favorite thus far. The app also won an Apple Design Award this year. The app includes the FT's terrific content in a well designed layout, with great video content no more than a touch away. [caption id="attachment_40895" align="alignleft" width="225" caption="Financial Times App\'s Markets Section"]

[/caption]Moving between articles and sections is intuitive, and it doesn't take much time to download an edition on the way to work. The app adds serious value, however, by linking into real time financial information. The FT, a paper designed for businessmen, allows users to look at the financial markets at a glance, providing a great overview of the currency, stock, and equities markets. The WSJ has some great features as well, including the ability to save articles and editions for later. I like how the app keeps the past couple of editions of the paper for perusal. The New York Times, not to be left behind, has also released a solid application.

There are, however, still problems with each application. One is common to all newspaper and content applications in the App Store - the inability to download content in the background. Instapaper developer Marco Arment has lamented the issue in a great post about iOS4. We can only hope that Apple will start including some mechanism to allow users to download content in the background with a future OS update.

As with magazines, newspapers are seeing reinvention and innovation on the iPad. Established media brands have begun paying serious attention to the platform, and it promises to pay off for them in the future.