Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Media app updates: The New York Times, USA Today and NRP update their major iOS news applications

As predicted, a slew of media app updates have hit the App Store including from some major news outlets such as The New York Times, USA Today and NPR News.

Both the iPhone and iPad apps from The New York Times have been updated this afternoon.

"Visually impaired readers can take full advantage of iOS's Accessibility features, including VoiceOver and AssistiveTouch," the app description for both version states.

The iPhone news app, NYTimes, has the most new features added to the app. Besides bug fixes, the app offers a new search mechanism, and now the Live Blogs, an increasingly important feature of the NYT's website, will update automatically and include photos and videos.

NYTimes for iPad limits the update to bug fixes and the accessibility features (both apps make changes to speed purchasing a subscription, as well).
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USA TODAY for iPad has been updated today, though one suspects that bigger changes will be coming.

The update today fixes an issue that causes the daily crossword puzzle to be delayed.

But the big changes is in the layout of the stories which the app description says "improves readability and content organization."

But most observers think that the biggest changes will come later this year when Gannett starts to move the paper's digital efforts to a pay model. Currently the newspaper's apps are free and without any revenue model beyond the modest amount of advertising found inside them.

Because of this, the iPad app is currently a stand-alone app, outside of the Apple Newsstand. Look for that to change at some point.

Also released today is an app update to the NPR News mobile app. The update is very much over due as it brings the app to iOS 6 compliance and adds support for the iPhone 5's larger screen.

But the app also has many more updated features such as the ability to enlarge the fonts, a pull-down refresh mechanism, and the addition of Bluetooth, USB and AirPlay connections.

"Connect to any of these types of devices and hear the audio while seeing related text and images," the app description reads.

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