The Telegraph released an iPhone app last week, the first to be developed by any of the UK’s newspapers, though others will surely follow.
In an area where few of the UK’s newspapers excel, The Telegraph had one of the better mobile versions of its site, so has it managed to create a decent iPhone app?
Having downloaded the app free, the first thing you see is this rather scary looking terms and conditions page, which you need to agree to before you can start using it. The terms are laid out before you download the app anyway, if anyone actually reads them, so this seems an unnecessary step:
After you have got past this step, the app is well laid out, navigation options are clear and easy to use, with a good range of sections on offer from the main site. The Telegraph has managed to keep it simple and easy to use, while making it more visually appealing than the standard mobile site:
Selecting any of options takes you to the main page for the chosen
section, where headlines are displayed alongside a photo and summary of the article. There is also a good range of video content, though how this performs will depend on the quality of your connection.
To read a news article on a mobile, the text needs to be large enough so users can read articles without having to strain their eyes, but not so big that too much scrolling is required. News stories on The Telegraph’s iPhone app are well laid out and easy to read, and also have the extra benefit of showing related content at the foot of the article:
There are a few things that spoil the user experience though. For one thing, the app is slow to start up, and retrieving content from its mobile site can take time, and if it doesn’t load with 20-30 seconds, you get this error message:
This means that browsing through the site and reading a few different articles can be a slow process, I encountered some of these problems using a wi-fi connection, and it can become even more frustrating if your signal isn’t perfect. Both the New York Times and ITN News apps performed better in this area.
What is impressive is the range of content from the newspaper that is available through the app. While the ITN News app and some other mobile news sites present a limited selection for mobile users, the Telegraph app provides hundreds of articles and videos.
The UK’s newspapers seem to have been slow to adapt to mobile; while NYT, USA Today, Le Monde and others have all had iPhone apps out for a while, The Telegraph is the first in this country, so it deserves some credit for this.
FT.com, having released an excellent iPhone-optimised site recently, also plans to introduce an app. This makes sense for FT.com, with a high percentage of iPhone and Blackberry users for its mobile service, and other newspapers, especially those with high numbers of readers with smartphones should follow suit.