Monday, October 10, 2011

The Guardian previews its forthcoming iPad edition

The long awaited first iPad app from the U.K. daily The Guardian appears to be only days away from being launched. Today the newspaper previewed its new app with a promotion video, seen below.

With iOS 5 to be released on Wednesday, quite a number of major changes will be coming that will effect newspaper and magazine publishers. The most important will be the launch of a new Apple app, Newsstand, that will place publisher's periodicals offering subscriptions (free or paid) into one central location. Because of this, many apps are being held back for a few more days as the new apps incorporate features that will only work with iOS 5.

The Guardian, which was one of the first newspapers to launch an iPad app with its The Guardian Eyewitness, has not, to date, launched a tablet edition for its daily newspaper. Eyewitness is a well-received photojournalism app, not a news app.

But The Guardian's editor, Alan Rusbridger was always quite clear that an iPad would eventually appear.

"We looked at some of the beautiful, early experiments that people did as newspapers on the iPad – and they were beautiful but they were recreating the newspaper on the iPad," said Rusbridger in the promotional video.

"One of the issues we were grappling with was how do you get that sense of hierarchy of information that we are familiar with from a printed newspaper page? How do we create that in a form that is appropriate to the iPad?"

"We just came up with this idea of a simple grid," Mark Porter, design consultant on the Guardian's iPad project says, "but stories can occupy one cell of that grid, or two cells of that grid, or four cells of that grid, and so on. And immediately you've created a little kind of architecture in which there is a form for big stories, small stories, and intermediate stories."

The Guardian recently launched a U.S. news site, and is building an editorial team in NYC. It will be interesting to see whether there are separate U.S. and U.K. apps, or whether the app will use location to stream the appropriate editorial content.

Another thing to look out for is how The Guardian app app handles advertising. Most tablet editions build in one ad spot, either a medium rectangle or banner ad, which remains the same from page to page. It appears that The Guardian has been thinking long and hard about how to incorporate advertising into the display 'pages' of their iPad edition.

"We've built an advertising system here where advertising is present, surrounded by editorial, as we're familiar with from printed newspapers," Porter said. "But there is still a clear separation, and then when you engage with the advertising there are various interactions you can performance that make it a more entertaining experience."


Tablazines said...

After reading your column for so long it appears that the Guardian "get its" in term of the advertising and spotlighting certain stories as opposed to everything just being laid out as the same sized box.

Anonymous said...

Somebody needs to do a better job of incorporating an ad strategy. Most US publishers have simply given up. Cant wait to download the app.