Monday, June 21, 2010

Tribune Interactive releases new L.A. Times app

The Tribune Company has not been exactly what you would call an early adopter of mobile media. The company has yet to release its first app for the iPad, and its iPhone efforts have been lackluster.
Today, however, the company has released a new L.A. Times app which is a small step in the right direction. The app allows users to share stories through social networking tools, and also allows for offline reading. The app also uses better navigation by allowing users to swipe to new pages rather than the usual hunt and peck of most news apps for phones.
These additions to the app, plus some U.I. changes make the app more attractive. It comes with a price tag, of course, in this case $1.99, but there are no subscription costs, though the app does encourage the user to register with the L.A. Times, though it does not require it. The app, though, is still just an RSS reader, bringing in news and photography from feeds without introducing any new features that take advantage of the smartphones mapping and citizen journalism capabilities.
News apps for smartphones are already feeling tired. The repurposing of content seems to be the solution-du-jour for most newspaper publishers. Even the new NYT app, The Scoop, is essentially repurposing of copy -- but at least the app is both entertaining and useful.

So what is missing from most local newspaper phone apps? Classified, for one thing. Local listings, for another. Merging a news app with a directory app seems like a nature to me. For now, I suppose, a better app from the Tribune Company is at least a step in the right direction.