Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Oregonian releases its first iPad app, a replica edition of its weekly Homes & Gardens of the Northwest section

Late last week the first app from the publishers of The Oregonian was released into the Apple App Store and the decision to release the app may bring about some second guessing now that the app is live.
The app, Homes & Gardens of the Northwest, is a replica edition of the daily newspaper's weekly magazine that used to appear in the Thursday newspaper but is now distributed on Saturday (which may be why the app went live on May 21).

At first the app looks like it may offer both portrait and landscape layouts, but in reality it is only the splash page that has been customized for the two orientations. After the splash page has gone away you are left with a replica edition of the print product, and not an easy one to read, either.

The cover page fits uncomfortably within the frame of the tablet's display. At first I could not understand why the pages didn't automatic conform to the display. Then I realized that there was button that needed to be pressed to make the page reduce in size or zoom to fit the display. After that it was the usual flipbook stuff (the app even uses the word "Flip" as one of the display options).

I was quite frankly confused by the app until I got to the "Articles" section and saw that this app is "powered by Technavia", the same company that has been issuing newspaper flipbook apps for many media properties from the Los Angeles Newspaper Group to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. It was definitely a "ah ha" moment.

The Oregonian is, of course, owned by Advance Publications, owners of Condé Nast, but the urge to create tablet apps has not really taken hold of the newspaper division.

Mobile apps, on the other hand, have been launched for many of the newspaper properties, with the help of Verve Wireless. The app for, for instance, does incorporate home and rental listings, as well as other classified categories – something missing from far too many newspaper mobile apps.

Hopefully the newspapers in the chain will decided to take tablet publishing more seriously in the future, and will shy away from cheap and easy solutions such as this flipbook effort.


jjeremiahcasey said...


Thanks for the coverage of the new Homes & Gardens of the Northwest app. You are correct in your description of it as simply an e-edition of the newspaper section. It does offer some direct links to items within the section. But, ultimately, it does not take advantage of many of the features that are unique to tablets.

We do plan to create more robust apps in the future using a different vendor. Those should better use the iPad's unique tools.

One correction: This is our second app. Our first was on the Oregon Ducks' run to the BCS National Championship game. It was available in the iTunes store on Jan. 18.

Jerry Casey
Online innovation editor, The Oregonian

Douglas Hebbard said...

Thank you for the note. I missed the other iPad app, I guess because it was released under the name of the 'seller', Verve Wireless.

The app can be found in the App Store HERE.