Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Extra! Extra! The Washington Post iPad App Is Here

Following in the footsteps of the New York Times and USA Today, the Washington Post announced its own iPad app yesterday.

Until now if you wanted to read the Post on your iPad, you either had to use the iPhone app, which displayed the paper in half-size (not fun) or on a web browser, which isn't that rich of a newspaper experience.

The Post's iPad app is clean and very user-friendly. The first article appears in under two seconds, about three times as fast as the Times' iPad app loads. And so far it hasn't crashed. By comparison, the current Times iPad app is very crash-prone.  (Unlike a PC, when an app crashes on an iPad it doesn't bring the operating system to its knees.)

The Post's iPad newspaper app is free through February 11, 2011, after which you'll have to pay 99 cents a month if you already subscribe or $2.99 a month if this is the only way you get the Post.  The New York Times will also start to charge a fee early next year.

The Post iPad app feels more ad-heavy and a bit more cluttered than the Times or USA Today's iPad app. But I don't mind that: Advertising, along with subscription fees, are what will keep newspapers alive. Amazon just announced that it would be increasing the share of revenue that newspaper publishers receive on its own Kindle -- another electronic newspaper reading option.

The app lets you easily share an article via Twitter or Facebook, which I guess is the undeniable trend for everything these days. At least the app doesn't show you whether or not your friends like a particular article, as many news websites do. (I like my friends. I respect my friends' opinions. But when I read the news online I want to just read the news.)

Just as with the changeover from film cameras to digital cameras, the move toward electronic newspapers is unstoppable.  In the early days of digital cameras we heard the refrain, "digital will never replace film." Just as, years before we heard "CDs will never replace LPs." Electronic newspapers will replace paper sooner than later. That will be one less thing to have to recycle every week.

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