Articles about "Web apps"

An exterior view of Google headquarters is seen in Mountain View, Calif., Thursday, Oct. 19, 2006. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma, File)

Google News mobile gets new look, adds access to desktop features like editor’s picks


Readers visiting Google News on smartphones will see some changes starting today thanks to a redesign that includes better navigation, enhanced customization and more features from the desktop site.

Increasingly people are reading News “on the go” and using their smartphones to keep abreast of the latest happenings around the globe. Over the next few days Google News readers on Android and iOS devices will start to see a beautiful new version of the mobile web app that will provide an improved overall experience resulting in a kind of real time news desk for you on your phone.

Users can view a dark or light theme, opt for larger, more detailed story cards, and access the weather and editor’s picks features popular on the desktop site. Read more


Does new Web app bring New York Times a step closer to abandoning native apps?

New York Times

The New York Times has officially released an HTML 5 Web app, previously in beta for iPad but now available on all browsers, called Today’s Paper.

The app includes all sections, articles and photos found in the print edition, as well as some select video. Users can access editions from the previous seven days. The app features swipe- and scroll-friendly navigation; optimized, responsive designs for both portrait and landscape modes; and offline reading for a seamless, efficient reading experience.

Putting aside free RSS feeds and the Kindle e-reader edition (which isn’t included in the Times’ All-Digital Access subscription), subscribers have a number of elegant ways to read Times content on tablets: Read more


NPR combines interactive, multimedia desks into one

In an effort to make its storytelling even more web-optimized, NPR is combining its interactive news applications desk and multimedia desk into a new “good Internet team.”

That’s not what it’ll officially be called, said Brian Boyer, the news apps editor who will oversee the as-yet-unnamed visuals desk. Each day, the team will aim to answer the question, “What’s the right way to tell this story online and visually?”

Sometimes, Boyer explained to Poynter via phone, that means a Tumblr blog like Dear Mr. President, or a gallery of animated gifs that needs to live outside the content management system, or a searchable database like Lobbying Missouri. The best storytelling solution isn’t always something produced by a programmer, but combines the news apps team’s web-savviness with the multimedia team’s visual acumen to streamline the workflow and produce a better product.

When NPR’s news apps desk was created, it absorbed the graphics desk, leaving the multimedia desk — photographers and videographers — separate. Merging the teams to make a 14-person staff makes sense at NPR, which can afford to marshal all its visual resources in one unit because it doesn’t have a newspaper to put out every day, Boyer said.

“At newspapers, the graphics desk has a beast to feed every day, and it’s not the web,” said Boyer, who founded NPR’s interactive news apps team last year after leaving the Chicago Tribune. “In my experience, the graphics desk has a difficult time finding the time to be more webby because making something for print is frequently very different.”

NPR has no print product keeping the web from being the priority when it comes to visuals of any kind, Boyer said. “Merging teams together will allow us to think about photography and video in a more web-first way.” Read more


With new tablet Web app, New York Times may avoid Apple’s fees

Nieman Lab | The Next Web | News release
The New York Times launches a new “experimental” Web app today for its subscribers with iPads.

So if you’re a Times subscriber you can now access its content on your iPad through the main NYTimes for iPad app, The Collection fashion and style app, the Flipboard app, plain old in the Safari browser, the experimental Skimmer Web app and now the new tablet Web app at Read more


Ad Age: ‘Digital dimes are turning into mobile pennies’

PEJ | Ad Age | IAB | Econsultancy
The Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism released the results of a significant study today on the state of mobile news consumption in America. Pew found that some people consume more news after acquiring tablets and that getting news is the second most popular activity on tablets behind emailing. It also sheds light on the difference between people who use apps vs. the Web to get their news.

Poynter’s Rick Edmonds looks at the business implications: While tablet ownership doubled to 22 percent in the past year, those tablet owners don’t want to pay for content and they aren’t crazy about advertising either. That leads Rick to conclude that “bundled subscriptions are looking better than ever.” Read more


Quartz takes the latest step in Web apps evolution

Atlantic Media’s new business news website, Quartz, launched today. I wrote earlier about the five things journalists should know about this new project.

The first of those five things was Quartz’s tablet-first focus, which we can now see in action.

Although the site is focused on reaching globetrotting business executives on their smartphones and tablets, you won’t find it in your favorite app store. Read more


‘I hated every moment of our experiment with apps,’ publisher says

Technology Review
Jason Pontin’s latest column is perhaps the most simultaneously complete and concise summary of publishers’ disappointment with mobile apps.

When Apple released the iPad in April 2010, the Technology Review publisher writes, “traditional publishers had been overtaken by a collective delusion. They believed that mobile computers with large, colorful screens, such as the iPad, iPhone, and similar devices using Google’s Android software, would allow them to unwind their unhappy histories with the Internet.”

But after setting foot in the new world of apps, Pontin writes, “like almost all publishers, I was badly disappointed. What went wrong? Everything.” (Read on for his blow-by-blow account.) Read more

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6 reasons to consider Onswipe for tablet-friendly websites

A new product launching today, Onswipe, helps news publishers easily set up a tablet-friendly version of their websites for iPad users and will help sell premium ads on those sites.

The Onswipe cover page peels back to reveal the table of contents.

You may have come across the Onswipe interface already if you’ve recently used an iPad to visit a WordPress blog. It creates an app-like experience on the Web, with lots of photo and video thumbnails, minimalist article presentation and touch-based interaction through dragging and swiping. Onswipe sites welcome users with a full-screen “cover” page, leading to a table of contents and the individual article pages.

Until now Onswipe has been available only as a WordPress plugin, but today it launches as a platform for any site, from personal blogs to national news.

The company is announcing partnerships with several major publishers and advertisers as it launches today, according to Quinten Farmer, Director of Strategic Partnerships.

I think news publishers will want to test-drive Onswipe for several reasons.

It’s free. Everything is free for publishers of all sizes, Farmer said. The company will make its money from optional advertising partnerships.

Farmer described Onswipe as a no-cost alternative to creating and marketing native apps.

Leaving the App Store behind will be difficult for many publishers because millions of people browse for apps there. But if you’re spending money to develop a native app simply to present your existing content with no new functionality, you may be better off with a free Web app.

A screenshot of the setup page for Onswipe.

It’s simple. Onswipe claims you can get your basic tablet site up and running in under 3 minutes. The system is supposed to integrate seamlessly with WordPress, Drupal, Joomla and many other content management systems. Pages can also take feeds from popular social networks.

It could bring in new revenue. There may be many ways to present content on an iPad, but Onswipe also promises to help sites make money with an integrated, premium advertising platform.

“The problem with advertising on the desktop Web is, it hasn’t been beautiful and it hasn’t been engaging,” Farmer said. Onswipe will deliver beauty and interactivity in ads, like a glossy magazine ad brought to life, he said.

An example of an interactive ad, with video, in Onswipe.

Behind this is a new ad platform that enables publishers to upload background art for an ad and add modules such as a video or a map on top. Ads can even be geo-located to show the user a map of business locations near them, Farmer said. One movie studio will be running movie ads, for example, that show the nearest theater to see a film.

The company’s hope is that publishers can charge more for premium ads like this than standard Web display ads. Both Onswipe and publishers can sell ads, splitting the revenue. Farmer said specific figures for the revenue share are still being worked out, but generally whoever sells the ad keep will keep the largest share.

It works on multiple mobile platforms. While Onswipe is best known for its elegant tablet design, it also can provide a customized presentation for touchscreen smartphones.

By now many publishers at least have a simple, mobile-friendly website. And smartphone news consumers value utility and quick access to information, not the laid-back, immersive browsing that is Onswipe’s strength. Still, for a publisher that wants a mobile site and a tablet site without hassle, this could be a good solution.

It stays entirely on your Web domain. There’s no URL redirect to the service’s site. “Onswipe has no interest in being the destination,” Farmer said. When visitors come to your site on an iPad, they automatically see the Onswipe presentation.

Also, tablet users who arrive through a link to an article will go directly to that article and not be redirected to a mobile homepage, avoiding a shortcoming of many other mobile-reformatted websites.

It’s flexible. Farmer said the tool allows each site owner to customize branding, logos, color schemes and fonts. There are several presentation options for each of the three main page types.

It won’t be as flexible as a native app built from scratch. And that’s probably the biggest downside of Onswipe for professional publishers — it’s a prepackaged solution that can be reformatted to their liking, but not rebuilt.

That said, as a basic way to deliver your content in a tablet-optimized format, Onswipe delivers a lot of features at the price (free) all cash-strapped publishers like these days. Read more


Financial Times launches Web app to avoid Apple’s fees and restrictions

All Things D
The Financial Times has launched a Web app that delivers content to tablets and mobile phones without going through Apple’s iTunes store. The advantage is that the FT keeps control of the subscriber data and avoids paying Apple a 30 percent share of subscriptions. All Things D calls it the “first major attempt” by a publisher to create an HTML5-based app, though as we’ve noted earlier, The New York Times, The Huffington Post and NPR have experimented with them. || EARLIER: Aside Magazine app runs on any tablet, shows what developers can do with HTML5


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Aside Magazine app runs on any tablet, shows what developers can do with HTML5

A pair of Berlin-based designers has released a prototype of what they call the world’s first HTML5 magazine for tablets.

The project, called Aside Magazine, is an impressive demonstration of the design, interactivity and app-like experience that can be created using new advances in the language that powers the Web: HTML.

The newest version, HTML5, goes far beyond pages, hyperlinks and images. It includes new support for multimedia and graphical content without using any plugins such as Flash. These advances are important for news publishers seeking independence and a universal development strategy.

Web apps enable publishers to avoid several problems with developing news apps for mobile devices: developing different versions for iOS and Android (not to mention BlackBerry or Windows), submitting the app to Apple for approval (which can take days or weeks) and giving Google or Apple 30 percent of revenue.

“Don’t get us wrong, we love the App Store. But in our world, magazines are press content, not software,” Nico Engelhardt, who along with Johannes Ippen designed Aside Magazine, told me by email. “And we don’t want a big company to decide whether our content is allowed to be published or not.”

The prototype is mostly written in German, but the language isn’t as important as the interactive features and elegant stylings that show off just how much a magazine publisher could do with this platform. With a tap or drag of the finger, users can enlarge photos, play music clips or manipulate interactive graphics. Engelhardt calls it “a technological experiment, showing our audience the power of HTML5.”

Aside uses the same WebKit rendering technology behind the browsers built into iOS and Android devices, but it doesn’t feel like a website at all. It launches as an entirely free-standing app — an immersive experience without any sign of the browser.

Engelhardt predicts that HTML-based apps are the way of the future: “In a few years, we will not install each and every application we need on our mobile devices. There will be a core set of apps like a camera, a browser and voice-recording software — the rest will fetched out of the cloud.”

The design duo met during their studies at Design Akademie Berlin. Engelhardt’s focus is in infographics and corporate and editorial design, and Ippen has experience in modern Web technologies such as HTML5 and user interface design.

HTML5 is still a developing standard, and so it has its shortcomings. Mobile experts at a conference in Seattle last week said it wasn’t ready to support some types of mobile product development, according to PC World.

Because HTML5 apps are not coded in a device’s native operating language, they can’t operate some hardware such as the camera or microphone. But HTML5 can do everything necessary for a content-delivery app that just needs to display text, images and multimedia.

There are still some obstacles to developing an entire app in HTML, but they are quickly being resolved, Ippen told me.

“This field of mobile development is quite new, and many features we used were released while we were working on our product — we had to do a lot of pioneer work,” Ippen said. “In the very beginning of our work, e.g., you could only embed one non-system font on the iPad; more fonts would have just crashed the iPad. Apple fixed this with the release of iOS 4.2, when half of our magazine was ready.”

The cover of Aside Magazine.

So is the technology demonstrated in Aside usable for publishers today? Yes, says Ippen.

“At this time we’re still optimizing the overall performance to make the reading experience much more fluent, especially on the iPad 1. But in theory you could already publish more issues or other magazines with our technology,” he said.

Some news publishers already are experimenting with HTML5 Web apps — less visually intense than Aside but still impressive. The New York Times, for one, has already built an HTML5 Web app you can see at — a clean browsing interface that can be controlled with a mouse or touchscreen gestures. The Huffington Post has a beta Web app called NewsGlide that mimics its iPad app in a Web interface. NPR has an impressive Web app as well.

News publishers should be releasing HTML5-based apps and helping to push this technology forward. Financially, they stand to keep all of app revenue instead of giving Apple or Google a 30 percent commission.

And, perhaps more importantly, publishers should not let the App Store approval process stand between them and their users. No newspaper would outsource its printing to a press facility that could reject an issue it didn’t like. And none would host its website with a company that could take down pages it didn’t like. There’s no reason to be comfortable with such restrictions on mobile platforms.

“You should ask yourself,” Ippen said, “‘Is there a slight possibility my app could not make it into the App Store?’ If the answer is yes, consider using HTML5.”

There is a downside to ditching the App Store; you lose exposure to millions of people  looking for new apps to download. For a game application, that might be a dealbreaker. But any media company that already has an audience of thousands should have no trouble effectively promoting a Web app through its other channels.

Ippen and Engelhardt say they are talking with several publishers about the opportunities of HTML5 publishing, not only for magazines but also books and photo books.

Engelhardt also said they may release a free template in the near future to encourage other developers to advance their work. Aside would publicize such an announcement on Twitter, he said. Read more