Tech Blog: ABC News iPad App Review

December 6, 2010  

Posted by Courtney O’Callaghan

iPad Review: ABC News

  • Immediacy/Urgency:
  • Non-linear news presentation:
  • Multimedia:
  • Interactivity:
    This past summer, the buzz in the tech world was ABC News, the first broadcast network news division to launch an application for the iPad in July. Early reviews claimed the free-of-charge app would redefine news as a leisure activity. How is it holding up a few months past the launch? Let’s take a look.

    Open the ABC News iPad app and a user-friendly instruction sheet greets you. It explains the app’s mission (an interactive way to browse the latest stories) and describes each feature of the ABC News app experience. The home screen is a spinning globe, navigated by just the touch of a finger. The globe contains thumbnails of the lead stories for the day. For those who prefer stories of a certain topic, the globe can be programed to feature topics such as entertainment, health, and politics. The globe functionality also allows for random browsing with the touch of the “Shuffle” button or “Shake to Shuffle” option. Like a die, the shuffle feature picks a story for you. The random viewing option allows for unknown stories to be seen, producing a more informed user.

    If a traditional form of browsing is preferred, the top bar of the app page contains buttons that takes the user to “Site Home,” or a website formatted news page. Another option is to “Browse” through a list of topical sections and clips or full episodes of ABC TV programs, such as “20/20,” “Good Morning America,” “Nightline,” “World News with Diane Sawyer,” and “This Week.”

    After reviewing the app, it was clear that there weren’t many news updates over the span of a few days. The application seems to serve the purpose of a source for feature- and entertainment-based news; there seems to be no urgency for hard or breaking news. The lack of immediacy of the app’s news content follows its original intent to “redefine news as a leisure activity.” Along those lines, viewers have the option to browse through historical ABC News archival footage. The app also provides users with the ability to archive stories for offline viewing, which is convenient for on the road, at the gym, in the subway viewing.

    Each story allows for sharing through the choice of email, Twitter, or Facebook. However, interactivity isn’t a one way street; the app lacks the ability for users to communicate with the source and might benefit by providing comment options for stories, a capability for users to share story ideas, or live twitter feeds relating to ABC News.

    For a visual guide of the app, watch this video demo.

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