Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Italian newspaper, Il Foglio, delivers replica edition to iPad owners, but also more in its recently updated app

The Italian center-right newspaper, Il Foglio, is hardly a circulation powerhouse at around 13,000, but it, too, has entered the tablet era with its own branded iPad app. Today it has been update the app has been updated bringing the publication into Apple's Newsstand, and fixing some bugs.
The newspaper was founded by Italian journalist Giuliano Ferrara, and although I do not read Italian, its Wikipedia description makes it sound like a typically pro-Berlusconi newspaper – not one I'd be very interested in.

But the app edition of Il Fogli ("The Sheet") is pretty interesting.

The app basically presents a replica edition to its readers, and because of its text heavy look, this really doesn't work too well – better to read the more standard looking mobile website on your iPhone.
But the app does give readers text versions of the stories, as well as more ways to access content. In this way, the app makes a more pleasant reading experience than might otherwise be possible.

Italian reviewers have give the app fairly positive reviews, though a few have complained that the PDF-like look of the replica edition is lacking in vision. Of course, with any newspaper with an obvious political point of view, this one is looked at with pretty biased eyes.

Generally speaking, designing for tablets when you product is a daily newspaper is difficult if one wanted to have a native look. That is why many have decided to adopt the NYT's look and feel – a fully automated design that I find not very attractive, but usable. The tablet-only publications, such as The Daily, have it easier – are can design once and therefore have a more magazine look to them.

Newspaper print design has evolved for several centuries, hopefully it won't take a similarly long time to get to a more creative and readable state on tablets.