The third and fourth tablet editions have been released by Hearst Newspapers last night. Following identical apps for the San Francisco Chronicle and the Houston Chronicle, Hearst has released two more iPad apps for their papers in Albany and San Antonio.
The iPad apps for both the Albany Times Union and the San Antonio Express-News are identical just about every way to the previously released apps, except only the app for its San Francisco paper supports Newsstand – certainly an odd decision.
The Hearst Newspapers apps are free to download, but require a subscription of either $5.99 a month or $59.99 per year to access the content. Both apps, however, are offering a free trial period.
Why the two apps keep the newspapers out of Newsstand is an odd decision, but it might be that Hearst did it this way in order to offer the free trial period – only previews are allowed in Newsstand. It is probably the case that all three apps without Newsstand support will be moved into the app with updates issued in the future.
The apps are not merely extensions of the newspaper websites. Comparing the websites with the print editions, and then the apps, it is clear that the editors are selecting the stories for both the print and tablet editions together. Meanwhile, stories from the websites appear in the far left column under the "Live Updates" banner.
If I have any complaint about the apps it is just the sameness of them, but over time, assuming the app team works with the individual papers, there may be time to customize them.
All the advertising is contained in one banner ad along the bottom of the pages which rotates every 30 seconds. This is a fairly unimaginative advertising solution, but at least they have included something. I would think that in the future the papers would want to have full page ads available inside the sections, just as there are in both print newspapers, and both print and digital magazines.
The sections to be found in the San Antonio app are the Front Page, Metro, Business, Sports, S.A. Life, Nation, World, Editorials & Opinion, Blogger Report, Weather, Traffic, Comics, and Obituaries.
Meanwhile, in the Albany app the sections are Front Page, Empire State, Capital Region, Opinion, Sports, Business, Traffic, Weather, Comics, Blogger Report, and In Memory.