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Scotsman iPhone App: a review – 4/10

As mentioned last week, The Scotsman has brought out an iPhone app. Now there’s not much you can say about an app ultimately, so let’s do this quickly with a review based on five days of usage:

Wired

  1. The Concept: it has a breakdown by some of the usual topics – news, sport – which are probably just rebadged RSS feeds.
  2. It also has a full downloadable version of the paper, which is fantastic (I still believe the modern news page is one of the best information inventions ever) and will be even better on the iPad than iPhone.
  3. It’s an app on the iPhone. Scottish journalism reaches the 21st century.
  4. That’s a decent price. Less than £2 for three months of The Scotsman? Sold. I’ll buy every UK paper at that price.
  5. Downloading papers to read offline.
  6. Full paper on the iPad? Awesome. I’d buy an iPad just to read papers on it like this.

Tired

  1. It would help if the app actually works. Crashes more often than Stevie Wonder at the dodgems.
  2. It is slooooow, even on wifi. Try to download one of the papers and you are waiting forever. This is a poor show. In fact, given that most people will probably decide they want to read this out and about then they should have the downloads optimised for 3G (though as it keeps crashing, any form of working download would be good).
  3. Did I mention that it’s slow?
  4. There’s no innovation here at all. No mention of the specialist sites like the whisky one. There’s been no thought into the story categories whatsoever to make life easier for people, it’s functional but unimaginative.
  5. The User Interface is a bad joke. This thing has more menus and submenus than every other iPhone app combined. Simplicity and ease of use weren’t a prime factor in making this app.
  6. It tries to download multiple copies of the same paper – and there doesn’t seem to be a delete button.
  7. Doesn’t tell you if you can read the papers on your main PC/Mac.
  8. Is less than £2 every three months going to be enough to save The Scotsman. How many copies of this need downloaded before it makes cash? Even more of a question: as this is just one of a series of apps by PageSuite how much is their cut?
  9. In every sense, this looks and acts like a beta product. PageSuite should be ashamed – from speed to UI to content.
  10. On the content note, when you launch an app, have stories in every category eh?
  11. It’s really repurposed web content with no extras.
  12. Where’s the Scotland on Sunday?
  13. This excellent article on PaidContent also sums up some problems with the pay model.

Why Apple might ban it from the app store

As people who use the likes of MotherApp will know, Apple is cracking down on rebadged sites or RSS feeds turned into Apps. That’s all this is. Be interesting to see if anyone at Apple takes notice.

Final Thoughts

I’d love for this app to work, I love the idea of being able to download the paper but at the moment that one piece of want is clouding my judgement on what is a very poor application.

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