August 20, 2013 Last Updated 4:45 pm

The WSJ updates Newsstand app, moves magazine to Start Screen

The Wall Street Journal gave the digital copy of their magazine a little push today by updating their app to make the latest edition more accessible. The paper has added the magazine to its Start Screen, which isn’t really a start screen at all (a start screen is supposed to be what you see… at the start), but is really what they name their library page.

WSJ-app-update-mag-lgThe WSJ has been around a while now and tends to get overlooked when discussing newspaper apps. But loyal readers depend on the digital edition and now its design is starting to be seen in the print edition where the news column has been reduced to one column as in the digital edition (but without the scrolling!).

Many advocates of paywalls have pointed to the WSJ as the prime example of why newspapers should go in this direction without considering the built-in advantage financial papers have over their local news cousins. The WSJ has always employed some form of paywall as the news that the paper delivers is considered vital to many businesses. Its natively designed mobile and tablet editions stand in stark contrast to the approach taken by the Financial Times, yet both papers have done well selling digital – a sign that it is the content, and the fact that many write off the expense, rather than the format of the digital edition.

The app itself gets both very positive and very negative reader reviews due mostly to the bug problems the app has been experiencing. The newest update, version 5.3, is receiving a fair amount of negative reviews as readers say it crashes. I did not experience that at all.

The layouts in the app, and in its magazine, are rather plain for a digital magazines, though typical of newspaper tablet app layouts. In fact, the same way of displaying the content is utilized in the digital magazine as in the newspaper – an automated layout that works fine for readers, but will have more than a few art directors shaking their heads. But it does work, is easy to read, and is certainly more attractive than the boxy approach many newspapers have taken.

screen480x480If the WSJ represents one vision of how to present a newspaper on a tablet, the apps from Spreed for the Digital First newspapers are another. The company which touts itself as the most digitally savvy of newspaper companies, and which is once again emerging from bankruptcy, chose to outsource its tablet edition efforts to Spreed. The result is, well, boxes.

Four of the apps for the Journal Register Company have been updated so that the name of the paper fits the standard app better. Apparently some of the city names were just too damn long and the app, a cookie cutter app, simply could not accommodate it. This has been fixed.

The four to be updated are The Oakland Press for iPad, The Saratogian for iPad, Macomb Daily for iPad, and Daily Freeman for iPad.

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