Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Media app updates: American Express publishing transitions apps; The Weather Channel swaps out icons; The Philadelphia Inquirer issues download fix

As I mentioned back in September, American Express Publishing was transitioning their apps to a new file format. Today the company issued major app updates again for both FOOD & WINE and Travel + Leisure magazines.
Complete this update of the FOOD & WINE app to take advantage of NEW and IMPROVED features that allow for a better reading experience and for enhanced sharing and bookmarking capabilities. Once you update the app, you’ll need to sign-in and re-download issues that you’ve already purchased/downloaded (there is no additional charge). Click on the “App Support” button to the left for additional instructions. If you do not update the app, you can continue to access any issue downloaded prior to September 9, 2012 the way you currently do. – App Description
 photo FOODWINE-recipe-Feb13-sm_zpscab1bb5f.jpg
Changing an app in such a major was is a pain for the publisher, but it is even worse for the reader who is forced to make a decision about updating their app and redownloading issues.

But American Express Publishing has handled this the right way. They are upfront with their readers, informing them that they can still get access to the issues they have bought, and also giving them the option to opt-out – though that would clearly end their access to future issues.

This won't stop a few readers from complaining, of course. But AmEx is moving in the right direction. These two tablet editions are hybrids, of sorts – with print ads pretty much as seen in print and the editorial pages reformatted for the platform. FOOD & WINE, for instance, uses both scrolling pages and swiping navigation, a bit interchangeably here, but also treats the recipes as separate pages accessible through tapping icons on the feature pages.

I was a bit confused by the latest issue, however, as it has "Coming Soon" buttons all over the place. Was this a slip-up, or will the editors be updating this issue now that the app update is live? I guess we'll see in the days to come.

Hey, the Weather Channel has updated the app icon for their iPad app. As mentioned here a few times, the icon had the word "TEST" stamped on it. For a while I thought I was seeing things as no one else bothered to mention it.

"We apologize for any inconvenience!" reads the app description as this update for The Weather Channel for iPad only involves fixing the icon. I was glad to see the update as I was beginning to doubt my sanity.

Philadelphia Media Network has issued an update for The Philadelphia Inquirer, the tablet edition for the newspaper. The app update is designed to fix an issue involving downloading editions, but this app is as much a soap opera in real life as the newspaper itself.

The app is one of those apps that simply reformats the newspaper's website for the iPad. We can all blame The New York Times for this kind of app, which is really pretty much unnecessary in my view. Because of this, the app description has to lead off with the warning "This application is NOT A PRINT REPLICA version of The Philadelphia Inquirer. For that app, please search for 'The Philadelphia Inquirer Digital Edition (Replica)' in the App Store."

Why would a reader have to search for the e-edition? Because it does not appear under the publisher's own name but under the name of the developer – in this case, NewspaperDirect. What a mess.

But readers have been slamming the app for lots of other reasons, as well. Readers are not very happy about the pop-up ads that have been appearing in the apps similar to what apps created by Tapedition have been featuring. It is annoying as hell for readers and they have been expressing their disappointment.