Thursday, July 22, 2010

More thoughts on the ABC News for iPad app

Some interesting comments in iTunes from an early user of the ABC News for iPad app made me want to write this update -- my original look at the app is here.

The review in iTunes made two interesting comments: first, the user talked about personalizing the news. "I want a way to tell it (the app) what types of news I am and am not interested in seeing . . ."

I think a lot of people directly involved in the press business fail to realize how much customization and personalization is part of the modern media experience. The ability to customize a news app is becoming more and more important.
One way to take advantage of this is to offer the user the ability to choose categories of news from a list. This feature could be used to your advantage when you have lots of content to offer but don't want to clutter up an apps look and feel. Rather than throwing everything at the reader instead let the reader pick and choose. What the developer needs to do then is provide a good looking shell (template) in which the user can add in the content.

The ABC News app does offer categories, but the categories are limited and the content is thin. I think the user felt like the categories may have been limited on purpose. I think they were limited because ABC News really is this thin on content. So why didn't this app take into account all the local news available to them through their affiliates? (I know, I know, that would have been a lot of work. But you have to admit it would have been great to have local news as a choice, right?)

Second, and a very minor point, but an interesting one for me: the reviewer points out that the ABC News app takes up the whole screen, eliminating the (from left to right) WiFi status symbol, the time, and the battery level symbol. Pull out your iPad and take a look (you have an iPad, right?).

At first I wondered it this were true so I opened up the Financial Times app and saw that it took up 99% of the screen but left a thin line at the top that continued to display those three elements. The New York Times app did the same, as did all the other apps I looked at.

Opening up the ABC News app, though, and the app takes up 100% of the screen eliminating that top line with the time, WiFi and battery level information. Strange.