A trade journal of a still-emerging field, written by Adam Tinworth.

Posts tagged apps

Apple dropped some new kit this morning – a red iPhone, a better iPad (non-Pro), and some watch bands.

Oh, and a social video making app:

Apple today introduced Clips, a new app that makes it quick and fun for anyone to create expressive videos on iPhone® and iPad®. The app features a unique design for combining video clips, photos and music into great-looking videos to share with friends through the Messages app, or on Instagram, Facebook and other popular social networks.

One interesting touch for mojos on the go:

With Live Titles in Clips, users can add animated captions and titles using just their voice. Captions are generated automatically as a user speaks, and appear on screen perfectly synced with the user’s voice. Users can mix and match different styles, and tap any title to adjust text and punctuation, or even add inline emoji. Live Titles supports 36 different languages.

It’s not available to download quite yet – it will be out in April. But it looks like it could be a very handy tools for journalists working on social video quickly from the field. Look for a full review next month.

Medium publications on iOS

Medium is making Publications, its approach to creating “websites” within the platform, much more prominent in its apps:

Only publications that you follow on Medium will be featured on your app’s home screen (and only when they have new posts to read), so make sure to follow publications you enjoy. You can find suggested publications to follow here, or hit the Explore button (next to Publications) on your app’s home screen to browse curated categories.

It seems that Medium has finally chosen to be a platform over a publisher – and this is a nice step to making it more compelling.

Why is Quartz launching its own app?

Chris Sutcliffe make a stab at identifying why Quartz is launching its own app – but none of them convincingly answer this key problem:

Research has demonstrated that drop-off for app use is precipitous after the first launch, and that unless your app is among the top four or five most-visited on a user’s phone, it’s unlikely they’ll open it with enough frequency to generate significant revenue.

The Quartz team are smart. Really smart. I’m not prepared to bet against them yet – but this looks like one of their bigger challenges.

Apple’s Eddie Cue, speaking to CNN’s Brian Stelter:

“We’ve only created the apps that we think everyone uses every day… We really wanted to create a single app that all customers could go to, to read all their news — no matter what they are interested in, no matter what topics, no matter what publications they want to follow — and get that experience that they’re used to with our products, where it looks beautiful, it’s really easy to read and yet it provides all the content available around the world.”

So, yes, they really do want to be the one single front end to your news-reading experience. And they do highlight the key elements of newspapers missing from the web: discovery and browsing of unexpectedly interesting news stories. News certainly has the potential to deliver that – if it gets better at its algorithmic curation.

News in Tom Foolery

Also of note is the fact that Cue’s definition of “news” might not match ours:

“We thought of things from, you know, even church newsletters to a stamp club… A lot of those organizations today still print and mail, which is even more expensive.”

Niche titles and small organisations which don’t have access to app development resources can get themselves into Apple News – and allow their members or audience to follow – a neat idea I hadn’t considered, and which could drive use of the app.

Here’s the full interview:

[via 9to5Mac]

Newsstand 2014 ios8

Interesting piece from a couple of months ago, on the faltering pace of change in tablet magazines. It makes a good case for what’s gone wrong – and an even more compelling one for some missed opportunities:

A successful tablet magazine requires a complete restructuring. “It makes no sense to me that Conde Nast and Hearst, with so many titles, have been unable to present consumers with the opportunity to mix and match from those titles,” Zeff said. “That type of curation is what we do every day with our Facebook and Twitter feeds. We pick and choose where we’re going to get our information and if there’s something we don’t like, we mute it.”

I think it’s inarguable at this point that there are two major issues as well as the ones listed in the article:

  1. Too many publishers just “shovelling” their magazine editions onto the tablet without thoughtful format changes – poor user experience keeps people from coming back
  2. Apple’s Newsstand becoming less and less useful with every release of iOS.

As Glenn Fleishman wrote, reflecting on the up-coming demise of The Magazine – one of the few tablet magazines that genuinely did something different – Apple has really made it hard to like Newsstand:

Finally, Apple turning apps in the Newsstand essentially invisible curtailed any possibility of a revival. Marko Karppinen wrote sensibly in October 2013 that his publishing platform firm could no longer recommend to its clients that they develop new publications to appear in the Newsstand: “Once downloaded, Newsstand publications are hidden away within the Newsstand app.” If I moved my app out of the Newsstand, all the in-app subscriptions would have been cancelled, dooming it.

There’s no doubt in my mind that the general idea of magazines will survive – most of the pure-play digital websites I read regularly are, essentially, magazines in conception. The only question that remains is “will anything that looks like existing print products survive?” – and that’s looking more dubious by the month.

Good move here from Future:

06/01/14 Future, the award-winning digital media business and one of the world’s leading tablet publishers, today announces the formation of Design and Development Team, Mobile.

Led by Senior Editor and recent PPA Digital Native 2013 award winner Tom Dennis, the Design and Development Team will create new digital content types featuring Future’s brands and content. Using Future’s self-developed platforms along with leading third-party technology solutions, the apps created by this new team will complement Future’s existing digital edition strategy for Apple and Android newsstands.

Future have been quick to recognise the potential of tablets – and now seem to be taking general mobile development seriously. This unit reports into Mike Goldsmith, who has headed up their Newsstand work for a while now. (He talked at news:rewired a couple of years ago, and was making a lot of sense then…)

Much of the negative feedback around performance of magazine brands on mobile has been the result of half-hearted or shovelware efforts. It will be very interesting to see what comes of a serious effort.


This piece tallies with what I’m hearing about magazine apps on tablets right now:

Publishers must break free of the Newsstand and InDesign/PDF trap and invest in their publications as stand-alone, real, honest-to-God apps – or find their titles even more neglected within a vestigial folder that will be inevitably reside inside yet another folder.

It’s becoming increasingly apparent that treating magazine (or newspaper apps) as something “special” just isn’t the right approach. You’re in a competition for attention with everything else on that iPad (and we’re still largely talking iPad in terms of consumption right now), and that includes the web, e-mail and Angry Birds. Once you choose to enter this environment, you have to compete with everything else in that environment, and not just myopically peer at what your former competitors in the print space are doing.

The real break-out hits on tablets will be those publishers that realise this – and a quasi-PDF versions of their print title will not be the solution.

Here’s a guideline: is your experience at least as good as Flipboard? No? You lose.

A Paris hotel's locationOccasionally, I make decisions which make me question my own sanity. For example, last Monday, I arrived in Paris via the Eurostar, after attending a funeral in the morning. What’s the obvious thing to do next? Grab a bite to eat? Jump in a cab to the hotel? Have a wee drinkie?


Thumbnail image for Walking Paris with Apple MapsApparently, it’s to check in on Apple Maps for the first time in over a year. Like many people who upgraded to iOS 6 back in 2012, I played with Apple Maps a couple of times, got terrible results, and abandoned it as soon as the Google Maps app was released. I’d decided to walk to my hotel – it was only 20 minutes away, and you wait way longer than that for a cab at Gare du Nord. Besides, once a cabbie left me the wrong side of Paris at completely the wrong hotel. Not feeling the love for the Parisian cab driver.  And so needed directions, and I’d rather have them without wandering the backstreets of Paris with my phone in front of me the entire journey. I looked up the hotel in Apple Maps on my iPhone, stuck some music on, and allowed the voice to guide me the whole way, only getting it out of my pocket once to check exactly where I was meant to be going.

And I arrived. I was exactly where I needed to be without any problems at all. This was not my experience of using Apple Maps a year ago, when it once delivered me to completely the wrong street for a breakfast meeting.

Suitably impressed, I used it for the rest of my stay. I made an ad hoc decision that evening to check the walking route back to my hotel from the point the Official Blogger party bus dropped me off rather than just using the Metro. 15 minute walk? Fine. And I arrived no problem at all. 

That encouraged me to start looking at some of the other functions I’d pretty much ignored. The 3D modelling of the area around the hotel was recognisably the right place (see the image at the top of this post). And how about the venue for LeWeb itself?

That looks pretty familiar:

Eurosites Les DocksIt also reveals that there’s a dirty great pile of aggregates (or similar) just beyond the venue that I never realised was there…

Pretty decent work from the Apple team, it appears. Now I’ll be giving it a work out here in provincial West Sussex to see if it holds up outside a major European capital.