Friday, October 15, 2010

Morning Brief: NY Times updates its iPad app, provides more content; Zinio also updates its digital newsstand

A batch of important app updates has hit iTunes this morning:
Speaking of updates: the New York Times has updated its much maligned NYTimes for iPad app. The app, which was released in time for the iPad's launch in April, has been widely criticized for a lack of content, and rumors have it that even Steve Jobs has complained about the app -- though, remember, that is just a rumor ;)

Now the app brings in more sections, and therefore, much more content. Wired claims that it is "full content", but I don't believe that is an accurate assessment since I do not see a search function. Therefore the content that would be accessible would that which is currently populating the various RSS feeds.
Additionally, iPad owners will now have to register in order to access many of the sections. Taking a look at the screenshot at left, you can see the little blue dots next to many of the section names -- this means you have to be registered and logged in to see these sections. I've been registered with the Times site for years so logging in was very easy. Once you are logged in these dots disappear and you now have total access to the content available.

The app, upon opening for the first time now asks you if you want notifications turned on so you can receive breaking news flashes. While some app developers have abused this feature, this seems like a logical use of notifications and I immediately turned mine on. The function is easily turned on and off through settings, however, so users maintain control.

I will admit that I was pretty surprised that the Times updated their free app rather than introducing a new paid app. But the Times may have decided that they can work with this design and when they introduce their metered paywall some time next year they may have a built-in mechanism for bringing that over to the iPad app. Users may find that the app reverts to some free/some paid in 2011 -- we'll see.

Speaking of updates: digital newsstand company Zinio has updated its universal app this morning, updating a few features, and the like, but now offering trial subscriptions for new members who sign up.

The company is also promising to introduce a search feature, bookmarking and more in future updates.