Tuesday, 2 October 2012

New York Times’ HTML5 App for iPad Is No Substitute for Native

The New York Times’s web app for iPad, native iPad app and the NYTimes.com on iPad. (Click to zoom.)
Not everyone prefers to get news through apps on their tablets. In fact, 60% of tablet news readers say they get most of their news through web browsers, while only 16% say they get most of their news through apps on their devices, according to a recent Pew Research Center study. To accommodate those readers, The New York Times launched an “experimental” web app on Tuesday built specifically for viewing in the web browsers of iPad devices. Users can save the app to their home screens by going to app.nytimes.com and selecting “Add to Home” in Safari.
The nice thing about web apps is that users never have to update them, but that’s about the only advantage the NYT‘s web app offers over the native version. Unlike the NYT app available in the App Store, which offers a selection of top news items to anyone who downloads it, only subscribers with tablet access can view content on the web app.
The layout is less complex: Stories are stacked vertically, with a headline, byline, lede and photo thumbnail (see photos, below). It is difficult, therefore, to pick out the most important news items quickly. Users must scroll to read a full story, whereas the iPad app is paginated. There’s also no way to save articles for reading later, though most of the same sharing options (e-mail, Facebook and Twitter) are available.

Stories are stacked vertically on topic pages. Article layouts are similar on the web and native iPad apps.
Users can navigate by section (such as Top News or Opinion), and see a list of the most recently published as well as trending stories. Both apps allow users to choose between a larger and smaller font size. The web app certainly improves upon the experience offered by NYTimes.com on iPad, which requires a lot of pinching and swiping to navigate. But it offers little to subscribers who already access the NYT through the native app available in the App Store.


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