Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Newport Television releases a series of updated apps that add iPad support; mobile apps lack of native tablet design

The former Clear Channel Communications television stations now operated under the Newport Television name have released ten updates that add iPad support to their mobile apps. While these updates may now allow iPad owners to better use these apps, the apps themselves are nowhere near as well done as those being released by ABC Digital.
I initially downloaded the app for WHP - CBS 21News app, the station that serves the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania area. The app is a typical mobile app in that it brings in content using RSS feeds. The problem with the app is apparent when looking at the screenshot: the news stories are showing only the first paragraph of the story. I believe this is being caused by setting inside the RSS feed which is broadcasting only the shorten version of the stories. (This reminded me to go check my site setting to make sure I was publishing the full version for TNM.)

This problem may be what is causing the News Video section to lack any actual video.

But if the RSS feeds were the only problem with these apps it would be a minor problem. The real problem here is that once again a developer, in this case the Newport Television owned Inergize Digital, is simply porting over the mobile app to the iPad rather than developing a native iPad app. This the same approach I criticized Freedom Communications for in early December.
Because of the RSS issue in the WHP app, I also took a look at the newly updated app for Local 12, the station that serves the Cincinnati, Ohio (and Kentucky) area. This app was updated two days ago is and is functioning as designed. The app features more content, and as seen here, allows viewers to send in their photos to the station -- a nice touch. The developer listed here, though, is News Synergy -- another Newport Television owned company. On the News Synergy About Us page Inergize Digital is listed as a "preferred distributor of and the service provider for News Synergy". (Who know what this all means, after all, they are all owned by the same people: Providence Equity Partners and the CEO of Newport Television, Sandy DiPasquale.)

But again, this app really doesn't make it as a tablet product. Compare this free app to that for ABC7 San Francisco. That app was developed by ABC Digital and is completely native, meaning designed specifically for the iPad device rather than for multiple devices (iPhone, iPod touch and iPad). Currently ABC Digital ten iPad apps in the iTunes App Store including their first one ABC Player which has been one of the device's most popular apps since its release shortly after the iPad's launch last year.

Searching inside iTunes you will find that Local 12 now has two iPhone apps. This new one plus an older app called Local 12 Mobile Local News that was released by DoApp, the Minnesota developer of mobile apps.