Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Huffington Post launches iPad app; tablet version duplicates website, but no offline viewing option

The Huffington Post has no print edition to bring to the iPad, being a pure play, so what will the political news site have to offer tablet owners that it doesn't offer online readers?
I guess they are still searching for that answer themselves. The free Huffington Post app released today in the iTunes app store functions well as a reader, but app is an earlier effort at duplicating the HP website, not really an enhanced or alternative version of the site.

As an app it functions very well, having both portrait and landscape layouts. But as you can see here, the landscape layouts appear to be exact translations that sometimes do not work.

Some layouts (and headlines) don't work well in landscape.

Navigation is also a bit hard to get used to simply because the app duplicates web behavior, rather than giving iPad owners new navigation arrows and buttons. But once the reader understands that this is an almost exact copy of the website, without new navigation tools (you can swipe your finger to advance pages in certain areas) the reader adjusts.

For a few minutes I thought about what the purpose of an app like might be. There is no added content like video like a print product might add. Suddenly I got it: it must be about offline reading. So I refreshed the page (a built-in icon in the upper right-hand corner) then turned off the iPad's Wi-Fi. Bet all the content will be there, I thought. Nope.

So I'm still a bit confused by this app. I suppose if I were a loyal reader of Arianna Huffington's site I might appreciate getting an app version, though it certainly can be better viewed using the iPad's Safari browser. I suppose we'll have to wait and see if the HP updates this app in the future.

Left: some layouts work well in landscape, others don't; Right: one of the few new navigation tools added to the minimally designed app.