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Posts tagged with "newspaper"

The Wall Street Journal Details Terms of Partnership with Apple for Apple News+ Service

Lukas I. Alpert, writing for The Wall Street Journal about the terms between The Wall Street Journal and Apple for the newspaper’s presence on the Apple News+ service:

The Apple app will surface stories thought to be of interest to a general reader—that could be national news, politics, sports and leisure news, but also some business news, people familiar with the situation said. The paper’s entire slate of business and financial news will also be searchable within the app, but the thinking is that most users won’t consume much beyond what is actively presented to them.

Apple users will have access to only three days’ worth of the Journal’s archive, the people said. The Journal also negotiated terms that would allow it to drop out of the service, they said.

“I have not entered into this deal lightly,” Mr. Lewis said in his newsroom talk. “It was never worth doing a bad deal.”

The whole story, despite being about the WSJ and on the WSJ, is reported as a rumor based on what “people said” about a newsroom staff meeting with William Lewis, chief executive of Dow Jones & Co. and publisher of the Journal. It is, effectively, a case of The Wall Street Journal reporting news about itself as a rumor.

Fortunately, William Lewis himself published an official memo on the Dow Jones press website:

WSJ members will continue to have exclusive access to the rich business reporting and analysis about which they are so passionate. Apple News+ introduces an entirely new category of readers who will have the opportunity to experience a specially curated collection of general interest news from The Wall Street Journal. As a result, our newsroom will grow. This is an investment in quality journalism.

While today’s announcement focuses on Apple News+, our collaboration with Apple will also extend to areas like video, voice, market data and AI. I will have more to share on those plans in the coming weeks and months.

“A specially curated collection of general interest news from The Wall Street Journal” sounds like a smaller selection of what you’d otherwise get with a “real” subscription to the WSJ through the web.

Earlier today I tweeted that with Apple News+ I might be able to stop paying my more expensive subscription to the WSJ and just use the Apple News+ channel instead. Now I’m not so sure I should cancel the subscription after all: I don’t like the idea of having three days to catch up on stories I want to read, and it sounds like certain stories will only be available through search. I’m going to keep my standalone WSJ subscription active for now until I fully figure out what the experience in Apple News+ is like.


The Early Edition 2 Review

When the original iPad came out last year, it was immediately clear the device would be great for reading. As I outlined in my Instapaper 4.0 review, those who followed the launch of the device in April 2010 may recall that there was little doubt the iPad was going to change our reading habits: from the comfort of a couch or during a daily commute, the iPad’s bigger screen would provide a better alternative to web articles, RSS  feeds and eBooks than the iPhone’s 3.5-inch display. How reading was meant to be changed and enhanced, exactly, wasn’t really clear from the start.

The following months saw the rise of “social magazines” like Flipboard and Zite, a plethora of RSS apps – most of them abandoned now – and variations on the theme of “visual news” that would see developers building apps with a unique, at least initially, spin on the classic visualization of headlines. Among the pioneers of “iPad reading” was Glasshouse Apps, makers of some fine software for iOS devices like Barista and Gift Plan. Last year, Glasshouse Apps released The Early Edition, possibly the first popular app to take on the concept of RSS feeds rendered as a newspaper on the iPad’s screen. Whilst many would later try to copy Flipboard and come up with similar ways to build “social magazines” off your Twitter and Facebook streams, I remember The Early Edition was among the first apps to deliver a fresh RSS experience that turned RSS items into visually-appealing headlines with page layouts, subtitles, bold headlines and summaries. The Early Edition was capable of importing feeds from your Google Reader account and manually managing them inside the app, but it couldn’t sync with Google’s RSS service. The fact that, without any major feature or UI updates, The Early Edition is still in the Top Paid iPad News chart as of this morning is telling of the app’s quality. Overall, The Early Edition was a nice way to read RSS feeds in a different format; perhaps it was overshadowed by Flipboard (which also gained Google Reader capabilities later on), but it’s still a fine piece of software.

The Early Edition 2, released today as a separate app, improves on every aspect of the original application. The interface has been redesigned, the sharing menu completely rebuilt; the app can now sync back to Google Reader (while still offering you an option to manually manage feeds out of Google’s system) and it’s incredibly fun to use, as before.

One of the big advantages of TEE 1 over its many competitors, in fact, was that it was fun. As the iPad as a platform, TEE relied heavily on swipes and taps to let you navigate between articles and sites, with beautifully crafted graphical elements and page turning animations to help convey the feeling of a “real” newspaper on your iPad. The Early Edition 2 builds on the skeuomorphic guidance of the previous version: the sharing menu is a yellow envelope you send out to the world; a wooden background adorns the newspaper’s pages and columns and becomes your coffee table as the newspaper rolls back, revealing its sections. Pages turn faster, and the new Featured Feeds section resembles a newsstand you’d pick your favorite newspaper from while holding your morning coffee on the way to work. Even the Clippings section – the one that holds your “favorite” (starred) items – has been designed as an inbox that sits on your desk, right below your personal newspaper.

Some might say that The Early Edition 2 is over-designed and that it’s blindly following Apple’s trend towards real-life interfaces with textures and materials and physical metaphors – but I like it. Unlike, say, Lion’s iCal or Address Book, I think The Early Edition’s design is functional to what the app does and, ultimately, it’s got personality.

An obvious feature of digital newspapers is that, unlike physical ones, you can customize them. In The Early Edition 2, you can browse All feeds, Unread ones and Today’s only, and note that if Google Reader sync is active, unread items will change their status on all your connected Reader clients, such as Reeder for Mac or Mr. Reader for iPad. In this regard, The Early Edition has proved to have reliable sync: as soon as I scrolled past an article, that was marked as read and changes were synced back to the cloud. Sync is relatively fast, but the app will need a few extra seconds to “assemble your newspaper”, which includes deciding to preload pictures, finding Trending Words in article, and picking a position for Favorite items (which you can choose to display in the newspaper’s Front Page). Search and Trending words in particular provide a nice way to quickly skim through a freshly built newspaper, see what’s most talked about in your sections, or simply find something specific you’re looking for (you can save searches for future usage as well). Another way to customize the newspaper is to browse recent items from single sources: from the Feeds sidebar, the app will let you tap on a website to read its latest entries, but this screen won’t share the same interface design of the “regular” newspaper. It is, however, a nice option to have. You can filter feeds or browse by section, too.

Article reading view has been redesigned from version 1.0. Typographic choices look better on the eye, and the overall page design feels cleaner and more elegant. The app will fetch article information such as publishing date, author and website’s name when refreshing feeds, and as you read an article the page “disappears” underneath the main header – it’s a very nice effect. Along the top of the page, there are buttons to open an article’s web view, share it, increase font size, and email the link or open it in Safari. The reading view is extremely simple, and you can swipe between pages without going back to the main newspaper view.

The Early Edition 2 has also been enhanced with gestures to simplify navigation and provide quick access to often-used sections. Besides swiping to turn pages and navigating image galleries, you can swipe with two fingers to reveal the Browse sidebar, or swipe with three fingers horizontally to skip a section you don’t want to read. A rotate gesture with two fingers gives you access to the Featured Feeds at any time, whilst the Clippings can be accessed with a swipe up from the main view. The app offers a quick recap of available gestures through the Help menu in the toolbar (which you can reveal by swiping down), and I believe that if you’re going to spend a lot of time reading in TEE, gestures will make you save a lot taps (and thus, precious seconds).

Other miscellaneous notes about The Early Edition 2:

  • You can subscribe to feeds, manage your subscriptions, reorder items, and move them around between Google Reader folders
  • Font size controls
  • Hardware brightness controls
  • Double-tap images to enter gallery view (perfect for photography and design blogs)
  • You can “star” items and mark them as unread on Google Reader
  • You can customize Google Reader sync and how items are marked as read
  • OPML import

Overall, The Early Edition 2 is a good app – but the question is, why would you use this over your regular RSS reader or Flipboard? I think there are a few aspects to consider before dismissing The Early Edition or quickly hitting the Buy button. First, unlike Flipboard, The Early Edition bets heavily on the concept of “digital newspaper delivered to you every morning”, whilst Flipboard is more of a social-media powerhouse with support for Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Google Reader items all displayed through a “magazine view”. Whereas Flipboard is deeply social both in the way it gets content and allows you to share it, The Early Edition feels to me more like an app you’d use once a day to read what’s new and relevant in the feeds you curate. Flipboard, too, enables you to subscribe to sections and feeds, but clearly its focus is on items shared by your friends, displayed through a better view than a web browser. And this is where the difference between The Early Edition and a regular Google Reader client kicks in: assuming that you’re an RSS “geek” with at least 50 subscriptions and hundreds of unread items per day, The Early Edition 2 positions itself as a nice way to read, and not skim, articles from your sources. I don’t know about you, but I use my main Google Reader clients to see what’s up, and other apps to read the good stuff that I missed while I was skimming through. With dynamic page layouts, The Early Edition 2 is also smarter than a normal RSS client, as it’s got an algorithm that decides which stories are more important than others and how they should be displayed. So here’s a first difference between the digital newspaper and a list of unread items. But the opposite is also true: what if you only subscribe to a few feeds, and you get your news via Twitter all day? In that case, you’re likely to use a Twitter client or, again, Flipboard. But when it’s time to read those few feeds, why use a client (which I believe is normally meant for heavy RSS users) when you can have a beautiful app like The Early Edition deliver them for you? It’s an interesting scenario that once again proves how the selection of iPad apps for reading web articles is changing our reading habits and empowering us to choose how we read. There’s one more possible usage scenario: assuming you use your “social magazine” for your “social news” and you don’t have a Google Reader account or even know what RSS is, The Early Edition’s standalone mode (no sync, no Google Reader integration) offers another way to manage the websites you like, not the ones recommended by your friends.

I believe RSS clients and apps like Flipboard and The Early Edition can coexist, but it depends on how you choose to read your news and feeds you care about. The Early Edition 2 is a beautifully designed app, which takes advantage of iOS 5 and nicely integrates with Google Reader.

The Early Edition 2 is propagating in the App Store right now. You will find the app here. Check out a gallery of screenshots and a promo video after the break. Read more

iOS 5: Newsstand Overview

Sitting on every user’s iPad, iPhone or iPod touch when they update to iOS 5 is a new “app” called Newsstand which organises all of your magazine and newspaper subscriptions in one place. Whilst this might sound pretty underwhelming at first, it is actually a fairly significant feature addition that actually contains a lot of ‘behind-the-scenes’ changes to how iOS devices and the App Store deals with magazines and newspapers.

I called it in “app” in quotes because visually it looks no more than an iOS folder with a new skin that turns it into something that looks like iBooks with its cedar bookshelves. In fact all it does is store all your magazines and newspapers so that they can be found in a centralised location, as well as give users a shortcut to the Newsstand section of the App Store.

Jump the break to read our overview of Newsstand and how it’s much more than just a pretty iOS folder.
Read more

The Daily Averaging Only 120,000 Readers A Week

The promised iPad-only newspaper, The Daily, that News Corporation created with some Apple support and launched in February this year has continued to sell poorly. Bloomberg reports from an advertising executive, John Nitti, that the newspaper is averaging just 120,000 readers a week (which includes those who are on a two-week free trial of the publication). He says the subscription numbers are less than a quarter the number that is required for the publication to make money.

When The Daily was unveiled in February, News Corporation Chairman and CEO, Rupert Murdoch said “We believe the Daily will be the model for how stories are told and consumed”. He spoke of how the publication would have the speed and versatility of new technology with the “serendipity and surprise” of newspapers - making ‘newspapers’ “viable again”.

News Corporation did reveal that more than 1 million people had downloaded the app between February and June but had declined to give out figures of actual readership. In May, News Corporation COO, Chase Carey defended the publication calling it a “work in progress”, and it being “early days”. Murdoch revealed in February that they had invested $30 million in the project, hiring over 100 staff and required a readership of 500,000 to break even.

[Bloomberg via The Guardian]

Adobe Adds Full Support For Newsstand In Its Digital Publishing Suite

Adobe has today announced that publishers who use the Adobe Digital Publishing Suite will be able to create newspaper and magazine files that appear in Apple’s new Newsstand feature. Announced at WWDC and arriving in iOS 5 this Fall, Newsstand will allow new editions of Newspapers and Magazines to be automatically downloaded (in the background) as soon as they are made available - and storing them all in a pseudo-folder on a user’s home screen.

Today’s announcement by Adobe reveals that their Digital Publishing Suite will be able to create files that are compatible with Newsstand, allowing publishers to create and deliver new editions directly to users with little fuss. Todd Teresi, from Adobe’s Media Solutions department said the “support for Newsstand will provide Adobe’s publishing customers the ability to deliver engaging content directly to the digital doorstep of subscribers on their iPads”.

Applications built with Adobe Digital Publishing Suite and enabled for Newsstand will allow publishers to better merchandise their content with support for Newsstand push notifications and icon covers displayed on the Newsstand shelf, reflecting the latest issue of the magazine or newspaper.

This move by Adobe is quite a significant motion of support for Apple’s Newsstand feature because their Digital Publishing Suite is already used to create more than 600 titles, including high profile publishers such as Conde Naste and Reader’s Digest. With little effort, all these publishers can now add support for Newsstand.

[Via MacRumors]

Financial Times Doesn’t Implement iOS Subscriptions, Launches HTML5 Web App

In spite of earlier reports claiming that the Financial Times was still negotiating with Apple over the implementation of app subscriptions for newspapers, the publication has announced today the availability of a new HTML5 web app built to fully take advantage of the iPhone and iPad unique capabilities. As Apple has started requiring developers and publishers to use subscriptions in their apps with recurring payments, asking to give away a 30% cut off every transaction, the Financial Times stated multiple times in the past a deal couldn’t be negotiated with Apple unless the company changed its terms. The Financial Times said the app “could go somewhere else” hinting at a native application for Android devices, though in today’s press release the FT clearly states the browser-based app was developed with iOS Safari in mind, with optimized versions for other Android devices and BlackBerry PlayBook coming in the next months. FT has even posted a lengthy FAQ on the difference between native apps and HTML5 here.

As for the app itself, it’s pretty slick and can be accessed for free during launch week, but a subscription will be required to read more than 10 articles a month once the promo is over. For as much as the web app comes with its perks like automatic updates and browser access, when using it on my iPhone 4 I noticed performances were far from “fast”, even after increasing the database size like the app suggested. Text takes a while to render sharply on the iPhone’s screen, images are slow to download and scrolling isn’t of course as smooth as a native app. I’m sure some of these problems are related to the fact that the web app just went live and perhaps the FT needs to re-optimize everything, but I wonder if the average reader will notice the aforementioned issues when comparing the web-based FT with any app from Apple’s iOS 5 Newsstand. However, I’m impressed by the design of the app on the iPad, the menus and buttons implemented by the developers, and the rich content made of photos and videos available through a web browser. Performance problems aside, the FT surely has dropped a well-design app that doesn’t require Apple’s approval.

This is our best app yet, and it is an important step in our strategy of providing multi-channel access to our global journalism quickly and simply,” said John Ridding, CEO of the Financial Times. “The FT Web App offers our customers flexibility and freedom of choice with access to our global journalism anytime, anywhere, with a single login or subscription. In a world of increasingly digital complexity we want to keep our service simple, easy to use and efficient to offer our customers the best possible experience of FT journalism.

Other features include:

  • Reading offline – saving a shortcut to your home screen so you can read it offline, at any time, just like one of our existing apps
  • Web browser access – no download needed
  • All access – one registration or subscription will offer customers access to FT content through a range of devices or on a PC
  • Speed – the new app offers improved performance
  • Automatic updates – instant product improvements with no need to download new versions of the app
  • Specific to smartphones – a completely new and improved design, inclusion of images and FT video content, a new currency converter
  • Specific to tablets – new content from FT Blogs

The new Financial Times web app is available here. Check out the official promo video below.

Read more

The New York Times Brings Paywall To iPad App

The official New York Times app for the iPad was updated a few minutes ago to include the new subscription system the publication first announced in March. The latest 2.0.5 version, bug fixes and performance enhancements aside, introduces the so-called paywall that restricts access to several sections of the app and only enables you to check out the Top News and Video section. You can find the updated version in the App Store here.

What’s interesting is that The New York Times still isn’t using Apple’s iOS subscription system to sell digital access to the newspaper. The app still relies on an embedded browser login to unlock all the features or sign up for a new subscription plan, and we guess it’s because developers of existing App Store apps can wait until June before being forced to update their software to include the iTunes subscriptions. From the app’s Settings, in fact, there’s no way to easily purchase a subscription like in The Daily with your iTunes account – you’ll have to manually log in The New York Times’ website from a popup window. We assume an upcoming update to the iPhone app (recently updated to version 3.0) will also activate the NYT’s paywall for sections.

On March 17th, the New York Times announced they will offer three different packages for unlimited digital access:

  • NYTimes + smartphone app: $15 per month
  • NYTimes + tablet app: $20 per month
  • NYTimes full access: $35 per month

At the moment of writing this, however, it appears that The New York Times is running a promotion with discounted access for early subscribers:

The New York Times has also started offering 1 year of full digital access to long-time subscribers of the print edition. Check out more screenshots of The New York Times iPad app below. Read more

Financial Times Doesn’t Want To Enable iOS Subscriptions In Its iPad App

Following a statement from late February in which Pearson’s CEO Marjorie Scardino expressed her concerns about the Financial Times iPad application having to comply to Apple’s new rules on iTunes subscriptions for apps, managing director of Rob Grimshaw told Reuters today that the publication won’t give up their “subscriber relationship” to Apple – which has implemented an opt-in policy so users can decide whether or not their personal data should be shared with a publisher. Apple also takes a 30% cut off every subscription sold through the App Store, inside iOS applications. According to a previous report, developers will need to update their existing publishing apps to include subscriptions by June.

Currently, the Financial Times sells subscriptions to the print and digital editions of the paper on their website – a method that allows the publisher to collect subscribers’ data to promote various products and advertisements to the audience. This kind of “relationship” can’t be easily achieved with Apple’s new terms, which are optional for the user in order to protect privacy. The Financial Times says they “have a great relationship with Apple”, too, but if the business model doesn’t work out they are ready to pull the app from the App Store and release it somewhere else. Perhaps as a web app, perhaps on Android.

We don’t want to lose our direct relationship with our subscribers. It’s at the core of our business model,” Rob Grimshaw told Reuters in an interview on Monday.

He said he was hopeful of a positive outcome to negotiations with Apple, but added: “If it turns out that one or another channel doesn’t mix with the way we want to do business, there’s a large number of other channels available to us.

The Financial Times isn’t providing additional details on where the iPad app will end up if subscriptions aren’t implemented by June, but many are speculating Pearson (owner of the FT) will focus on Android and “other tablets”. The situation is interesting as the FT iPad app is generating 20% of the publication’s subscribers and millions in revenue – but they don’t want to comply to Apple’s terms as, in their own words, they “have something to lose”.


iPad & Tablets Bring 200,000 New Subscribers to WSJ

There’s been quite a debate around the implementation of Apple’s new subscription policy for publishers (we’ll see the real consequences in June) and the problems faced by newspapers and magazine apps for the iPad, which most of the time don’t offer anything users couldn’t find already for free online, or in previously released printed formats. The funny thing is, sometimes the digital version costs even more than print, has a clunky purchase and download system and less content than the magazine. Newspapers, on the other hand, offer less news at a slower rate than a website. For this reason publishers have struggled, and Apple hopes to invert the situation with an easy to use subscription system that’s the first step towards a wider adoption of magazines and newspapers for the tablet. But in the meantime, the Wall Street Journal reports some interesting numbers.

The publication announced they added 200,000 new subscribers from tablets like the iPad, Nook, Kindle and Android devices in the past year. Now I’m no WSJ insider, but I guess most of these subscribers come from the popular WSJ iPad app, which is available for free in the App Store and requires a login for paid subscribers.

The 200k figure is a combination of News Corp’s paid subscriber base on all tablet-size devices, including the iPad, Android tablets, the Kindle, and the Nook. In contrast, the print edition currently represents a circulation of approximately 1.6 million.

The company hasn’t provided numbers for smartphones. With the iPad and Kindle being the ideal reading devices for many, lower performances on iPhones and Android devices wouldn’t be a surprise at all. [via Electronista]