Thursday, March 31, 2011

It's Opening Day for new Boston Herald baseball app

Getting the timing right on an app launch is nearly impossible. You submit your app to Apple and wait -- sometimes you get a message asking for more information, delays, waiting, and then sometimes the app shows up in the iTunes App Store seemingly demonstrating perfect timing.
That's how the folks at the Boston Herald must feel this morning as their new iPhone app, Boston Herald Baseball 2011 appeared in the App Store last night, just in time for Opening Day (that's today!).

"I had heard that Apple tends to move paid apps through faster than free ones," Tom Rose, senior editor at Herald Interactive told me this morning. "Not sure if there's any truth in that, but this one went from In Review to in the store in 24 hours. Big relief."

The app follows the standard look of its developer, DoApp: two layers of navigation at the top, with content below. For the most part the content is driven by RSS feeds made up of news, columns, and the like. But the app also contains schedules and standings, as well as social networking sharing and a great feature that allow you to share information with the newspaper.
Maybe the most important feature, we'll see, is the chat area. Baseball fans are ones to want to brag up their teams, or complain like crazy when things aren't going so well. The ability to see in front of the TV, at the game, or on your front porch listening to the games and chat away on your smartphone might just be a new trend. (I can imagine online arguments being ended with the line "hey, bub, I'm at the game, I saw the play with my own two eyes, he was out by a mile!"

The app description contains the usual disclaimer, that the app is not associated with either the Boston Red Sox or Major League Baseball, demonstrating the sensitivity that surrounds licensing in this sport.

Rose tells TNM that an Android version of the app is due to show up in the Android Market soon, with a Windows Phone app soon, as well.

Left: A news story layout; Middle: schedules for all MLB teams; Right: "You Report" allows readers to submit stories, photos and video to the editors.

There are also plans to add more information and features to the mobile app throughout the year, but I'll let the Boston Herald announce those as they come up. But already this app is stuffed with really great material and should prove to be valuable not only for Boston Red Sox fans, but for baseball fans everywhere. It is clear that the team at the Herald thought through this app and made sure they didn't leave anything out that was obvious to a baseball fan.

It is clear why Rose wrote me when I complained that newspaper publishers were sitting on their duff this year as the season was about to begin. Where are the baseball apps, I asked? Well, the Boston Herald had been working on one, and right now they have the field to themselves.

(The Boston Red Sox don't open the season until Friday, so I guess the team at the Herald may have launched this app with one day to spare, but 12 teams do start play today, including the rivals of the Red Sox, the Yankees. My Giants open against the dreaded Dodgers this evening, though for once San Francisco fans go into the game . . . well, still in a state of euphoria.)