Tuesday, November 13, 2012

LinkTV World News, a serious video news aggregation app for the iPad, presenting content in an easy to navigation, in-depth and professional manner

Video aggregation apps are all the rage, it seems. The first video news app to appear here at TNM was Newsy from the Media Convergence Group. Just this month NowThis News launched.

Both video news services aggregate video content and add their on-air hosts in order to make it feel like you are watching another television network.

Also recently launched at the end of October was LinkTV World News - Free Videos from Link Media. Link TV is supported by The Bertha Foundation.

To understand LinkTV it seems obvious that you have to understand The Bertha Foundation. "To create change in the world, we believe you need activists, lawyers, storytellers and social entrepreneurs," the organization's website reads. That website contains a quote from Peter Gabriel: "In this age, when the mass media rest in fewer and fewer hands, we must have strong, vital, independent voices if we ever want to hear all the stories or seek justice. We have an incredible opportunity to change lives."
I think these statements are helpful in understanding how LinkTV is different than many other video aggregation services. It is this mission, I think, that also helps this app distinguish itself from others. It is a serious news service, with a mission to inform, as well as entertain.

As a result, LinkTV World News is designed in a simple, professional manner. Navigation is consistent and well conceived. There is a lot of content here, but the user will not get lost in the quantity of video due to the way it is organized and presented.

Sections are created within the app to curate content into in-depth news sections containing videos from a wide variety of sources including Al Jazeera, the BBC, Reuters, CNN, France 24, The Guardian, The New York Times, etc. The app also promises raw user-generated video. A section of the app is dedicated to documentaries. No doubt the app benefits from the content available through LinkTV's own material available through their channels found on DirecTV and Dish satellite services.

Of course, one of the things that differentiates LinkTV's app from the others is the absence of embedded hosts. Those hosts are there, I suppose, to justify the aggregation of content from outside sources. It is like they are saying "see, we didn't steal your content, we enhanced it. Fair Use!"

LinkTV World News does away with hosts, and good riddance to 'em.

"The LinkTV World News app does the heavy lifting so users don't have to," Paul S. Mason, president and CEO of Link TV, said in the company's press release for the new app. "A team of seasoned journalists using the best semantic 'smart search' technology sifts through thousands of newscasts and raw videos to bring people the stories that matter most."
The app itself was developed by the brand marketing agency Method, a company with offices in San Francisco, as well as NYC and London.

All-in-all, LinkTV World News is an excellent app, which sadly can not be said for its presentation with the App Store. It starts with its app icon which, to be generous, looks like it was created by a grade schooler. The screenshots are also a big mistake. Some app developers like DoApp think it is a good idea to put cutesy designed screenshots into the app description – no, it is not cute, and it is certainly not helpful. Any real screenshot from this app would sell the app to users, these do not.

I think the presentation with the App Store is scaring away potential users.

Also, I have a minor quibble about the name of the app. It reads "LinkTV" in the title, yet it reads "Link TV" throughout the app description. It is almost as if someone not directly tied to LinkTV was put in charge of the app submission. This is too good an app to be treated so badly within the App Store.

There is also an Android equivalent released into Google Play at the same time as the iPad version. While the reviews inside Apple's App Store are all very positive, there are no reviews to be found inside Google Play. I wonder if this is caused by the fact that so many Android apps are designed for mobile first, where as the Apple App Store effectively separates mobile apps from those designed for the iPad.

Here is the traditional short walk-through the app. There is lots and lots of video, of course, so I limited that portion of the walk-through for the sake of brevity: