In the News: Newspapers/Magazines on the iPad, Part 2

Newspapers on iPad examples by Joe Bustillos

So when we last left our hero, I was looking for the best way to consume my daily news via my iPad… I had discovered that the Amazon kindle edition of the Los Angeles Times was much improved from earlier versions. My guess is that earlier versions, because of limitations of the kindle itself, were black and white images only and attempted to mimic the look of the print edition in a single column fashion, which led to some navigation difficulties. I really don’t know because by the time I decided to subscribe to the LA Times they had switched to an Onswipe-like layout with side-scrolling and section navigation on the left. See A) Los Angeles Times – Amazon Kindle edition on the right.

Imagine my surprise when I checked out the free LA Times iPad app and it looked pretty like the Amazon Kindle version that I was paying $9.99 each for. In fact, the free version was a little more advanced in it’s usage of screen real-estate, giving the reader a bit more information and options on each single screen. See B) Los Angeles Times – iPad App Edition (free) to the right.

The free version had the better screen usage because the section menu was drop-down, so it was out of the way when not needed. See C) Los Angeles Times – iPad Edition – Sections Menu to the right. And the free version was not lite on content by any stretch of the imagination. Granted, the last time I saw the paper version of the daily I was shocked at how small the newspaper was. It was hardly a shadow of it’s former self. So my guess is that the free iPad version has all of the same content as the paper version.

Finally, one thing that was very frustrating with the Kindle version of the Los Angeles Times was that if I found an article that I wanted to share or clip there was no way to do that in the Kindle version. I couldn’t select the article to copy it or even select any text that I might want to share. Now that might have been a limitation of the iOS interface but it really made the Kindle version feel like it was just for reading and not for sharing or research. The free version had social-networking built-in. Yeah. I cancelled my Kindle-edition. See D) Los Angeles Times iPad Edition Social Networking Menu to the right.

As I continued to explore the free Los Angeles Times iPad app I couldn’t find anyway to “subscribe” or become a subscriber in the traditional sense. I’m guessing that the free iPad version is being supported by the few ads along the bottom of some of the screens. As much as I love getting the whole LA Times for free, I’m concerned about the sustainability of the free model. That said, I’m not happy at the confusing subscription model being promoted by the New York Times that favors paper-subscribers over iPad/online subscribers when there’s so much less waste in the iPad/online model. Note that when you look at the iPad version of the New York Times all of the sections are locked for non-subscribers – see E) New York Times – iPad Edition – PAID Sections.

So, do I enjoy a free-copy of the LA Times every morning on my iPad with my Wheaties? Not so much. It’s tough to settle into the sit-and-read-the-paper-with-breakfast model that I’ve aspired to. Also, I’ve gotten used to skimming dozens of news sources at a time via my iPad RSS reader of choice, NewsRack. There are dozens of more visual newsreaders that mimic the slider model, but my purpose is to skim and select what to read and if I have to wade through tons of images it’ll slow down the process. I guess I’ve chosen a method of going through dozens and dozens of news sources instead of trusting a couple, or as in my dad’s case, one source.

Actually, now that I think about it, part of my problem is that I’m used to skimming and get a lot of my research links via my Twitter-stream. I tend to skim my Twitter resources before skimming my RSS articles. So, there’s a definite disconnect from the traditional news/magazine publication cycle and how I consume my information. As beautiful as some of these news apps are (like the ABC News and BBC apps) I don’t want to go to dozens of iPad apps or virtual magazines. It’s the web2 model: I don’t want to have to go to the apps, I want the news to seamlessly come to me. Man, this is much more difficult than I expected. This is going to require more thought… to be continued…

image: Man Reading Newspaper at Beach – Microsoft Office Clipart,|mt:2| retrieved 1/14/2012.
image: Newspapers on iPad examples by Joe Bustillos, retrieved 1/14/2012.