Friday, June 11, 2010

iPad app watch: Hits, runs and terrors

Now that we have bought all those expensive iPads – and we know who all of you early adopters are, too – what are we going to do with them? Here’s the first in an occasional look at what’s hot – and not – in App-Land.

Top Picks

All-Around Best: Safari

Safari has been named the best app for the iPad by several commentators and I couldn’t agree more. The snappy (unless it’s on the ATT network) web browser makes it possible to access a beautiful rendition of any site on the web, including those operated by publishers offering sub-par iPad apps (see below: Time Magazine and the New York Times).

World Class: France 24

This app fully exercises the multimedia capabilities of the new medium with words, pictures and video. It is attractive, well organized and world class, given that it is offered in French, English and Arabic. Runners up: BBC (which offers a live audio stream) and NPR (which doesn’t).

Slick: New York Post Pix

This is nothing more than a collection of captivating pictures evoking scarce intellectual heft (see left), but it has lots of potential to build and monetize an audience. The newly released app features prominent opportunities to share pictures with friends, making it catnip for the social media. It is being monetized cleverly by embedding a movie trailer, an approach that could be used to sell all manner of other products.

Crude But Effective: Il Venezia

This is simply a page-by-page representation of the paper but it is a very satisfying experience because pages can be opened, expanded and navigated rapidly and smoothly on the iPad. Nothing fancy. But it works.

Most Readable in Ideal Light: iBooks

Books are more pleasant to read on the iPad than any other e-reader, so long as you are doing so under exactingly perfect lighting conditions, which is to say away from sun and glare. If you find yourself properly situated, the only other challenge you’ll confront when facing the highly polished iPad screen is finding something to read in the entirely too tiny iBooks catalogue.

Big Misses

Too Expensive: Time Magazine

No one is going to pay $4.95 a week for something you can get for free at Save your shekels and read the mag on Safari.

Too Cheap: New York Times

The might of the New York Times is the depth and breadth of its content. Why would anyone fiddle around with an app that barely scratches the surface of a day’s coverage? It’s easier to go to the website. If you want to try something completely different, I hear they have a print version, too.

Too Dumb: MacGruber

This is the promo site for a cinematic bomb about a long-in-the-tooth secret agent called upon to defuse a nuclear device. The app has all the right ideas: Sound bites, still photos, a game, a trailer and more. But no amount of technical wizardry could save this effort from the sophomoric subject matter at hand.

Biggest Miss of All

Too Awful: The ATT Network

No discussion of killer apps would be complete without discussing the biggest app killer of them all: The balky, sluggish and unreliable ATT network. If you don’t want to be tempted to stomp your expensive new toy to death, stick with the wi-fi version.

This is the latest in a series of Newsosaur posts providing publishers with actionable revenue and content strategies for the tablet iPad. Prior articles packaged in a convenient 10-page PDF are available here for immediate download for $1.99. Proceeds will be used to buy more apps to pick on.


Blogger Unknown said...

Alan, if you like Safari, you should pick up iCab as a substitute. Real tabs, file downloads and extensions.

11:37 AM  
Blogger David Rothman said...

I'm also fan of iCab because of the tabs and other extras such as the ability to blow up the characters. Even better, except for a bookmark-related bug that may be fixed by now, is the Atomic Browser. Another app to check out is the new iPad version of the Stanza e-book program. Like earlier versions, it lets you customize the interface in a number of ways and download scads of free books directly. Works with Dropbox, too.

6:25 PM  
Blogger Steve Outing said...

I think The Guardian Eyewitness app is stunning -- and a smart revenue model. It's simply one great photo per day, sometimes news, sometimes feature or landscape. The pro images look stunning on the iPad screen, and in addition to a short caption there's a "pro tip" explaining how the shooter created such a great image.

I view this every day, and it takes just a few seconds of my day.

The app is sponsored by -- what else?! -- a camera company, Canon.

Post a single stellar photo a day, keep the sponsorship filled, and let the money keep rolling in in exchange for minimal effort. It won't save the news industry, but it's a smart little app.

8:40 PM  

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