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Dec. 13th iPad design: four style models emerge

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TAKEAWAY: It’s raining newspaper and magazine iPad apps and, truly, it is hard to keep up with all the new entries into tabletland. Here are a few of interest in case you would like to explore new ones.


It is 11 shopping days left till Christmas, or so the TV announcer reminds us this Monday morning. If you are like me, you are telling those who ask what you want to get you those handy iTunes gift cards so that we can stock up on new apps. They are, indeed, proliferating.

True, we have spent most of the weekend “playing” with Bild’s app: it is a fun one, and there is no room for lazy fingers in that one. If you are going to check out ONE newspaper app this week, please download Bild’s. The German daily is the king of pop up moments. Of course, not all of us can do those things Bild does so well in our first app version, but here is the shape of things to come. One reads. One looks. One touches photos that open up, reveal new surprises, or simply take us to a video.

Bild’s app is a must see.

Categories of iPad apps

But we are beginning to see newspaper apps developing styles, as did newspapers and magazines in print through the years.

So far, we see four prevailing models:

1.The e-reader-—-simply put pdfs of your pages there and the user flips through them. It works as a first step to get you into the iPad, but it should not be a sustainable, permanent app style. Of course, I am all for including the e-reader version in all newspaper/magazine apps, but as an option, not as the only way to read your product in an app. The Luxemburger Wort is an example among many.

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Read the entire printed edition of the Luxemburger Wort on your tablet

2. The newspaper look alike apps: these take the app one step beyond just becoming an e-reader, but the look and feel are purely that of the newspaper, one sees a miniature of a newspaper page on the screen; this is good for a start, to get app users get acquainted with the app edition while against the visual backdrop of the familiar printed newspaper or magazine. If some pop up moments are added, this can be a good way to introduce users to your tablet edition. USA Today and The Daily Oklahoman, Austria’s Wirtsshaft Blatt, among others, follow this style well.

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The newly introduced International Herald Tribune app: the newspaper look prevails here

3. The special tablet edition: here we have a dedicated editor putting together a distinct product that is exclusively for the iPad and that even goes back to the concept of editioning—-updating two or three times a day, while offering instant access to the online edition. See the newly introduced tablet editon of Colombia’s El Tiempo, perhaps the first app to introduce the concept of editioning. (Note: I sat with the El Tiempo team in the early workshops to conceptualize their app; it was just launched a few days ago, so be patient as it is tweaked).. Also, look at Sweden’s Dagens Nyheter, which combines magazine style visuals with a newsy presentation.

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Sweden’s Dagen Nyheter: a distinct look, elegant screens, easy navigation

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Colombia’s El Tiempo: introduces the concept of editioning to the app—-updating twice a day, and indicating so on landing page


4. The grand pop up app: Looking for one done extremely well
to accommodate newspaper content, see Bild’s. Here the app creators have taken the newspaper’s content and given it long fingers. Touching certain items is like opening presents: curiosity, surprise and excitement follow.

A great pop up moment in Germany’s Bild—THE must see app

New entries


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The Economist: new entry into the iPad app


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The Montreal Gazette just introduced its app

TheMarioBlog post #687

Posted by Dr. Mario R. Garcia on December 13, 2010




comments powered by Disqus


Yes, an early stage for new publishing technology this is,

But let’s be critical in our examination. What we are really seeing here is ‘extrapolation’ being heralded as innovation.

True innovation for the iPad we are not seeing yet. Not from the classic publishers.

It still seems like the thinking behind many of these approaches is small-minded. Push-minded editors and publishers merely looking to the iPad as a way to sell digital copies of the same content and claim any paid circulation that might be possible.

This strategy might sound good in a board meeting but would these same players agree to having their consulting contracts and year-end bonuses tied directly to the quality of the end-user reviews of these products in the iTunes store?
Smart boards of directors would consider this third-party marketplace feedback as a critical measurement of success.


The iPad platform, the media experience, and the marketplace offers so much opportunity for engagement.

For example, the Pulse and Flipboard apps are much better designed engines for consuming news. Publishers should be learning from the success of these new paradigms.

Gaming is also the top media experience on the iPad. Reading is not. How hard is to decide to do more with games, entertainment and the types of experiences that competitive interactives offer? If earning revenue is your goal - this is where to look first.

To wit, the best NYTimes company iPad app is NOT the buggy app that simulates a digital copy of the newspaper, rather their crossword puzzle app is the best thing they do on the iPad.

Learn from this. Build on this. Design from the perspective of what iPad users want, rather than from the perspective of what your company already has in the inventory.

Posted by Robb Montgomery  on  12/13  at  5:27 AM

I agree with Robb. That doesn’t mean it’s automatically a bad idea to replicate a print experience on a tablet (if there is a market for it), just that it’s not particularly innovative. The first three models really are variations of one.

The Bild app may begin to push a tiny bit into new storytelling possibilities, but if it really is all that great, I have to wonder why Bild is blocking iPad users from having access to their regular website. Forcing users is so last-century.

I think we all need to keep a closer eye on non-native application development based on HTML5. There’s only very early work being done there (see the Chrome Apps store) but I’m intrigued by some of what I see implied by the NYT and NPR apps in terms of handing control to the user.

Posted by yelvington  on  12/13  at  2:20 PM

Well, if you don’t mind paying for books, the E-reader app is excellent and the selection of books on their site is huge - and current.

Posted by Anton  on  12/28  at  3:27 PM
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