Tech Blog: Review of The Economist iPad App

November 22, 2010  

Posted by Lauren Michaels

iPad app review: The Economist

  • Immediacy/Urgency:
  • Non-linear news presentation:
  • Multimedia:
  • Interactivity:
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    The Economist released an iPad application last week with an audio feature for all the articles. I’ll admit that I am not a frequent reader of the magazine. Naturally, when I want find myself reading about international affairs, politics or business news the articles are often online.

    After picking up the latest their latest print edition, I read almost every article and quickly downloaded the Ipad app. I was able to download this for free, but had to purchase the edition for $5.99, since I am not a regular magazine subscriber.

    The screen quickly filled up with the magazine’s staple red color, a list of content and President Obama holding a chainsaw in overalls underneath their cover feature story, “How to Cut the Deficit.” I immediately clicked on an article under their United States selection and scanned the page for any audio indictor. In the upper righthand corner, I noticed a a small headphone icon. I tapped it once and waited. Tapped it twice and waited again. The room was still quiet and there were still no voices of any audio storyteller.

    I waited for about more five minutes, heard a few musical beats and then a professional newscaster began reading the article. I followed along for a few paragraphs, flipped through the pages and sat in my chair listening to the full story. If you enjoy audio storytelling, then I would recommend this application for your Ipad, even if I had to wait for a couple minutes. While the audio feature gave the stories a unique element, that was the only exciting multimedia element to the application. The articles had clear pictures, but I was unable to zoom in or out. Personally, I think the website engages readers more with polls, blogs and other elements.

    If you want a clean, visual presentation of The Economist with an audio bonus feature, then I would recommend getting this application. If you are not a magazine subscriber, then I might reconsider. For two dollars more, the actual magazine had the same articles as those on the Ipad. The content appeared to be the same and there with no additional tips on urgent news or the topics they covered. If you travel frequently, then the online website might be a better way to engage with other readers through blog posts and polls. The interactivity wasn’t that great because didn’t have any videos or links in the articles.

    While I would prefer to buy the print edition, the audio feature was a sophisticated way to tell stories and added a unique multimedia element. If you enjoy listening to people give you the news, then go for the iPad app. If not, I would stay loyal to their print or online magazine because you just may be getting more bang for buck. Still, that’s not to say that The Economist is surely on its way to changing the future of digital magazines.

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