Jonathan Joyce, technical director for Storm ID, discusses the iPad app unveiled today by the Scotsman.
Following the release of the iPhone edition of the Scotsman in August 2011, the newspaper have just released an iPad edition. Having used the iPhone version several times since it was released last summer, I was interested to review the features of the iPad version to see whether they had managed to address some of the failings in that app.
The iPad has proven to be a medium in which news can be delivered in a very compelling format. The opportunities to deliver a more luxurious reading experience, combined with the subscription model Apple has provided, has been heralded as the saviour of the newspaper, or at least a natural progression that print publishers can understand which takes them from the print format and print commercial model into a digital medium.
The developers have put some thought into how to use the iPad to deliver their content. The first page of the ‘digital section’ manages to pack in a good deal of themed content into a browsable form which offers visually engaging images balanced with some written content.
Unfortunately the format has been used as a one-size-fits-all for all the Scotsman news articles and there is very little evidence that the content or presentation has been curated to add value to the user’s reading experience. Article titles and description text have been truncated, and images are just smaller versions of those used within the article. For a publication which prides itself on delivering high standard content, it is a shame to see this not being presented suitably within the app. On reading an article, it appears that the iPad version fails to offer many improvements over a simple RSS reader and attempts to introduce useful UI devices, like swiping between screens, fall flat because the content sprawls over too many pages.
There is a huge opportunity to produce a more sophisticated Scotsman app. At present, I feel that the current app is only beginning to scratch the surface of the possibilities of what could be achieved, many of which are in full evidence in many of the competitors’ tablet apps. I would recommend moving away from replicating a paper copy of the newspaper and some of the tired presentational devices used throughout. The very fact that there is a ‘digital’ and ‘paper’ section shows the underlying problems in the current approach.
With the iPad app not providing any remarkable improvements to the iPhone app, I’m keen to see further development work taking place so an innovative digital experience can be achieved.