A couple of months ago, and nearly 230 years since it was first published in 1785, the venerable British newspaper, The Times, launched an app in the Windows Phone marketplace.
The Internet and the 24-hour news channels heralded the beginning of a challenging era for all newspapers. It must be remembered though that the invention of the radio, and then the TV, were other disruptive technologies that they have had to overcome.
So, the mantra has always been to adapt or die, which brings us back nicely to the Windows Phone app.
The Times, of course, is not the only major newspaper to have an app that you can download for your Nokia Lumia smartphone.
Choosing a newspaper can come down to many factors such as price, personal interests, following favourite writers and your political beliefs. However, we’re just as interested in the features and functionality of the apps.
This is a free app, although you will need to pay a subscription to access the content just as you need to do with the Times website as well (from £2 per week, minimum 12 month contracts).
The good news is that if you’re an existing subscriber to the Times online edition, then you can use your existing login and password and it will work on this app. There is also a free 30-day trial available if you’ve just installed the app.
This app is simple and easy to navigate. You swipe through the following sections: top stories, news, business, sport and section list, which is the equivalent to a contents page for the entire newspaper.
Some of the story articles have a photo gallery that you can swipe through, but I couldn’t find much else in terms of multimedia. Neither does it support offline reading, live tiles or any personalisation options.
If you just want to read the newspaper every morning or catch up with your favourite columnists then you might find that this is everything you need. It’s a shame it doesn’t have many standout features, but it is pleasant to use and is a real bonus if you are an existing Times subscriber.
The New York Times app, or NYTimes as it styles itself, is free but to access most of the content and to take advantage of all the features you will need to be a paying subscriber ($15 per month, although there is a promotion of $0.99 for your first 4 weeks).
Without a subscription you will be limited to reading a dozen or so news stories and watching videos.
When it initially opens up, this feels like a much more compact app than its British counterpart, but there really is a wealth of content available (if you’re a subscriber).
The key to finding your way around the app is the Sections screen, where you can scroll down to your areas of interest, such as sports and technology. The best thing is that you can then pin those sections to your start screen as a 2-sided live tile.
With your NYtimes.com ID (free to sign up, as it’s the first step to getting a subscription) you can also save articles for reading later on your Lumia, or even other devices. Offline reading is also supported.
The Times of India does not require a subscription to access its content, and neither does it require a login or ID.
If that wasn’t enough to commend it, there is also a wealth of videos and photo galleries for you to enjoy.
The app is nicely laid out and largely remains faithful to the Windows Phone style interface. It is interactive too because you can add your comments to each article and see what others have got to say as well.
However, there is no support for live tiles and you can’t pin categories or articles to your start screen. If you’re a fan of Test cricket though, then this app is a must.
Britain’s Guardian newspaper has always embraced online journalism and so expectations are high for their Windows Phone app.
Like the Times of India, The Guardian’s app does not require any form of subscription to access their content.
The easiest way of using the app is by gathering the sections of the newspaper that you read the most into the favourites. Each section can also be pinned to your start screen as well. You can even pin or save all the articles by a particular writer.
All your multimedia needs are catered for in the form of videos, galleries and podcasts, and they all live within a section of their own. You can even listen to the podcasts underneath your phone’s lock screen – this is a really great feature.
If you enjoy reading the Guardian, then this app does the job admirably. There’s not much in terms personalisation– unless you count changing the size of the font – but it is colourful, elegant and with just enough functionality to make it an app worth recommending.
We know there are plenty of other newspaper apps in the Windows Phone Marketplace, especially of the non-English language variety. Let us know if you’re using a great newspaper app on your Nokia Lumia.