Tuesday, August 3, 2010

France 24 releases documentary as iPad app; news broadcaster uses the app store as a distribution channel

The ease of developing and distributing apps for smartphones and tablets is making possible innovative ways to distribute content. No better example of this can be found than the new iPad app from France 24, the international news broadcaster.
France 24 had previously released its own universal app for its news channel which allows iPhone and iPad users to view live broadcasts on their devices. To date France 24 has not launched Android or Blackberry apps, forcing owners of those devices to use the company's mobile website.

France 24's new app is for the iPad only and is called Report: "Rape in Congo" in its English version, and Reportage: "Congo, la paix violée" in its separate French version. Interestingly, the two apps are not the exact size -- the English version weighs in at 185 MB, just slightly larger than the French version.

The actual documentary housed inside this app is called "Rape in Congo: Peace Violated" and was produced in the North Kivu region of the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. Produced by journalists Zoé Lamazou and Sarah Leduc, the documentary investigates the use of rape as a weapon of war.

The two reporters travelled to the region to speak to, photograph and video the people of the region.

When the two reporters returned to Paris, France 24’s editorial and technical teams decided to set a themselves a challenge: to produce the world’s first documentary exclusively for the iPad platform.

Apple’s new device has allowed them to explore new methods of putting the story at the center of a report. A month later, after some cold sweats and intense reflection, the report is finally ready.
-- France 24.

Layouts are in both landscape and portrait modes, with embedded audio and video. 

There are alternative ways to distribute a video documentary, of course. One could have it within the television program area of iTunes, or could make it a video podcast. But creating an app opens up a few interesting options such as combining text, photography and video into one media product.
The app offers both portrait and landscape modes, though in some cases I wonder if this is a good thing as the photographer obviously originally intended for the picture to be framed a certain way.

 In any case, the navigation works well, though I had some trouble with one of the audio files. In addition to swiping of pages, there is bottom navigation tool made up of thumbnails that comes up when on taps the page. It, too, has some glitches. For instance, when one gets to the end of the pages the navigation simply disappears. It is also extremely touchy.

The French version of the app
is available as a separate download.

Nonetheless, this is a great experiment and I hope the app is downloaded often so that there is sufficient feedback from users to judge the app's ultimate success. The app is a free download, though one could easily visualize a media company deciding to charge for an app such as this.