Friday, December 10, 2010

Murdoch's The Sunday Times releases tablet edition

The Sunday Times has released its first tablet edition, a free app that for now let's readers access a sample issue, but will charge £1.79 per issue in the future -- no word on what US readers will be charged. (The promotional video can be seen at right.)
The app is very much like other newspaper tablet editions such as those released by the New York Times, Financial Times, or the ten apps recently launched by the Canadian chain, Postmedia Network Inc. Layouts are for both portrait and landscape with copy flowed in. In this case, however, I would image that copy will be stagnant since the app will reflect the paper as produced -- but we will see when the app really goes live with the first Sunday edition.

Stories do not flow into multiple pages the way the NYT app does, however. Instead stories simply scroll like a web page. I noticed, also, that pictures only appear in the landscape mode, not portrait -- strange.
Another difference is that sections are downloaded one at a time. That is, you can choose which section you want to download and the size is displayed -- this is a very good idea since many iPad owners have complained about the massive size of some magazine downloads. The News section of the sample issue, for instance, is 58MB, while the sports section is 31MB.

The app allows you to go directly to the Sunday Times website where today you will encounter an interesting feature about the new app. The feature tells readers that "In order to view the app, you will need an iPad..." Thanks for telling me that!

More informatively, though, the story tells UK readers that access will cost them £1.79 a week (as mentioned above) or will come free as part of their £2 weekly subscription to the website. Early adopters will want to check out their apps on Sunday morning to see what this app looks like "live".

As for the paper itself, the sample issue makes plain that its point-of-view with its ode to Sarah Palin prominently highlighted. Members of the Labour Party, or Democrats, beware. Also, the light-weightedness (not really a word, I know) of the Sunday Times sample issue comes at a strange time considering the student protests and WikiLeaks news seen on the front pages of other UK papers and websites today.