Comparing New York Times and The Guardian App

The New York Times app is designed around a vertical list of stories, with a headline, lede, and photo thumbnail for each. Stories are organized into standard news sections, plus the always interesting “Most Popular.” Banner ads sometimes appear at the bottom, plus occasional interstitial ads that appear when you select a story.

There’s no personalization of news content based either on interest or location, which may well prove to be a standard feature for mobile news applications. Fortunately, the app includes a search function, that seems to work well. Especially when just typing in one or two words, the search engine seems to give the most trending stories first.

On the NYTimes app, downloaded articles are available when the device is offline, which is useful for when there is no service, or if you simply wanted to save a story and come back to it. Stories that you have favorited can be saved, or shared via email, text message, Twitter, and Facebook.

The photos in a story very sensibly download after the text, but the scroll position jumps when the photo appears. This is seems to happen in various articles, but not all articles. There’s little innovation or differentiation here, but the experience is smooth. One thing to note, if you do not have a subscription you are limited to reading 10 full articles a month. Once you have read ten articles, a paywall appears that has the different type of monthly subscriptions for The Times with no way of exiting. Although, this is an effective technique because eventually readers will get frustrated and subscribe.

As for The Guardian app, The United Kingdom’s newspaper has created an easy and consumable news application. The app is based around the same vertical story list as NYTimes, but each story has its own block. In contrast to the NYTimes app, it is well implemented and supplemented with multimedia features such as photo galleries and integrated podcasts. The usual sections are available, but “Latest” and “Trending” are the stories on the home screen.

The search function stands out. It finds topics, sections, and contributors, not stories, but the archive seems to go back a full year, unique among iPhone news apps. A topic search for “plane” brings up “Hudson river plane crash”, “Plane crashes (world)”, and “Lockerbie plane bombing”. Each of these categories expands into a long list of previous stories.

Stories can be favorited, bookmarked, or shared via email and Facebook. Text size is adjustable on the app as well.

The Guardian’s app is cleanly implemented, the multimedia features within the app are effective, and the archive search function is innovative and useful. Well worth the 54 megabytes of storage.

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