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The Independent last week launched an iPad version of 'i' the compact, reduced price version of the newspaper.
The app currently has an offer for five free issues if users register, but will charge £1.79 for 10 issues or £2.99 for 20. I've been seeing how it works...
The home screen can be confusing, as nothing is clickable except the 'connect' buttons, so I was unsure how to go about reading the news at first. You can scroll through the various editions of the paper, but you can't click on them.
Clearer calls to action, and a fuller explanation of the registration and subscription options would have helped.
Once you have worked it out, it's necessary to register for your free five copies of the paper. The process was a bit buggy, and it took me several attempts to register as it kept telling me there was a problem with my internet connection, which there wasn't.
Downloading issues takes a minute or two:
Once downloaded the 'app' works more like a PDF file. None of the headlines on the paper, or indeed anything at all, is clickable. Users can navigate between pages by swiping left and right, or by using the contents options which pop over the screen:
Unless you have amazingly good eyesight, nothing can be read without zooming in, and it is harder than it should be to do this. I instinctively tried to pinch and zoom in, as you can on other apps and sites from the iPad, but this doesn't work unless you double-tap the page first, which just makes it a little bit harder than it needs to be.
The lack of any interactivity on the app represents a missed opportunity. I think the Independent could have done more to create an app to work well on the iPad. Some of the better iPad apps introduced by publishers do this, and are more impressive and more usable because of this.
For example, on the Wired app, headlines can be clicked and articles can be read in full screen, while the app also features some video and audio content.
Also, the ads on the app can also use video and audio, and can be acted on instantly, making them for more appealing for users and advertisers alike. If the Indy wants to do more to monetise its iPad app, this is one way to do it.
I found the app very buggy when I used it too; after several attempts I still haven't been able to download today's edition of the newspaper, while if I wasn't reviewing the app, I would have given up after several registration attempts.
All in all, the 'i' iPad app is a disappointment. Given the potential of the format and the examples from other publishers' apps, this could have been so much better.