Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Straits Times App - iPhone & iPad

News about the new Straits Times app on iPad, and its full version cousin for iPhone were spreading for the past few days. MyPaper had also ran a full page advertisement for these 2 apps today. Honestly speaking, news apps on iPhone and iPad are not new at all. I've tried the other apps from other news agencies from abroad. What is more important for the success of these apps is its usability. This is especially so for subscription based news apps. 

The Editorial content from the Print Edition of the Straits Times' apps on iPhone (full version) and iPad (you can get these apps on the iTune apps store) will be free from now till 7th Sep, but they have not announced the charges that are applicable from 7th Sep. I believe they are watching for consumer responses before deciding the price tags.

Out of curiosity, I decided to try out the full version iPhone apps from Straits Times. Well, the news coverage is more complete now, with articles from the Print Edition added into the picture. The users could also retrieve older articles from the past 7 days. I like their keywords alert function, where news articles containing these keywords could be 'push' via notification. I am puzzled about their 'Expiry Date' under the Subscription tag of the Settings though. It stated 31 August 2011. Isn't the app suppose to be free until 7th Sep?

An area for improvement for the Straits Times apps on iPhone would be its refresh rates. It took a while to refresh the articles (see pic below), especially when the reception is not in the most ideal location. It is inevitable that network quality may suffer at places of low coverage - e.g. SMRT trains, tunnels and such. However, these are also the locations where users are more inclined to use the apps to get news updates - traveling on trains for example. Straits Times could format its update in a way to enable better refresh I suppose.

Overall the feel of the Straits Times iPhone apps is good, and I am sure it will appeal to the news junkies, especially for folks who travel frequently. Singaporeans who are residing overseas may also be attracted to these apps for an instant update of the Singapore landscape. It remains to be seen if the subscription rate is attractive enough to encourage mass take up of the Straits Times app. Just a food for thought - if the adoption rate for the Straits Times iPhone app is high, will the paper version suffer from such 'internal cannibalisation' then?

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