Thursday, February 10, 2011

Discussion boards and tablet apps from ForumRunner; Sports media guides and the potential of tablet publishing

While all eyes are on Al Jazeera television (LiveStation app here) watching events in Egypt, let's put a light on a couple of apps that might get your ideas flowing:
This new app from GCS Publishing, - Jeep Discussions, got my attention this morning, an app that is essentially just a discussion board, but one that makes it easy to read on your iPad. Is it a better solution than the built-in Safari browser? I don't necessarily think so. But forums are rarely discussed when the conversation turns to mobile and tablet apps, let alone website design. Discussion boards are kind of the old men of the Internet, but they drive a huge amount of traffic, and many of them have been become default substitutes for lame B2B magazines and websites. (I won't even go into the crazy, insane attitude the company I formerly worked for had about forums.)

It looks like this app is really not from GCS Publishing since a look at their website shows that they are not very technologically savvy. Instead it looks like this app is really from ForumRunner, under the developer name End of Time Studios, LLC. The company has 54 universal apps in the App Store, as well as numerous apps in the Android Market.

The little app from Wehaa Design, a website design company from Milwaukee, also attracted me simply because I was hoping this would a new take on the traditional sports media guide.

Sadly, this app for the Milwaukee Admirals, a hockey team in the American Hockey League, is a simple replica copy of the print media guide. The app looks pretty silly in portrait mode as many of the layouts are designed to be two-page spreads, but improves in landscape.
But the idea of a media guide on the iPad seems a natural. An inventive publisher could include lots of photography, as well as video highlights of team games in a multimedia media app.

But this app already weighs in at 126 MB, yet it has no audio or video, no thumbnail navigation, no animation, and no pinch-to-zoom. So why the size? It must be poor optimization.

Nonetheless, think about what you could do on an iPad in a media guide that you can not do in print: the possibilities are endless.