October 7, 2015 Last Updated 4:33 pm

Hump Day Media Updates: Google initiative meant to speed up the mobile web

Media app updates include one for the Kindle iOS app, a bug fix for Martha Stewart Living, a Roku remote app update, and CNN updates its iPhone and iPad apps

The tech sites have been covering the news from Google about Accelerated Mobile Pages, so there is no reason to pile on here at TNM. You can learn more about Google’s efforts directly here.

Google-AMP-2“Today, after discussions with our DNI partners in Europe and publishers and technology companies around the world, we’re announcing a new open source initiative called Accelerated Mobile Pages, which aims to dramatically improve the performance of the mobile web,” Google said on its Europe Blog. “We want webpages with rich content like video, animations and graphics to work alongside smart ads and to load instantaneously. We also want the same code to work across multiple platforms and devices so that content can appear everywhere in an instant — no matter what type of phone, tablet or mobile device you are using.”

The idea, in short, is to help website load faster so that readers won’t be tempted to use ad blockers – so you can see Google’s motivation here. The problem, of course, is that the project is limited right now to Google News publishers, and how would a reader know who one of those are? (TNM is, don’t block…)

The former publisher of Gigaom wants to know why publishers didn’t care about this issue (slow loading websites) before now (of course, who says they really care about this now?):

Another news item from Google and Google News today involves free clicks. Google has had something called First click free, Google’s effort with subscription services to serve up news stories despite metered paywalls. The idea is that the reader can read the story they are clicking through Google search, but only the first click is free, after that they hit the paywall.

“This is our preferred solution since it can benefit both our users and our publisher partners,” Google says.

In the past, a reader could theoretically search and find the same media source five times during a day before being locked out, but now Google has lowered that number to three.

It is a sort of compromise that I’m sure was pressured by publishers who want more solid paywalls.

App Updates:

Kindle has updated its iOS reading app, offering some improvements to its audiobooks:

What’s New in Version 4.12
Audible Improvements – Download, play, and pause your Audible audio book without leaving the page you’re reading.Follow the Author – From inside your book, follow the author to get e-mail updates about their activity and get notified if a new book is released or made available for pre-order. Follow anytime from ‘About This Book’ in the left navigation panel.

Flashcard Improvements – Create new flashcard decks from your notes, highlights and X-Ray terms with just a few clicks.

Amazon has also updated the Amazon Music with Prime Music app for minor bug fixes.

Meredith has updated the Martha Stewart Living Magazine for iPad app, though the app appears under its old developer account name, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Inc. The update is for bug fixes.

This app is a great test case for what happens when a digital edition goes from being a native digital magazine to a replica edition. The reason for the switch is supposedly all about getting the title into the Next Issue newsstand, though it did not have to morph into a replica to do this (didn’t Meredith know this?). What we have seen is the expected gain in single copy digital, rising from around 1.7K to over 17K – a nice leap forward. But at the same time digital subscriptions have fallen from just over 66K to just under 58K. Right now that means the title has recorded a small gain in digital with the move, but if digital subscriptions continue to fall, and reviews inside iTunes tend to suggest they will, then all this will have been for nothing.

In the end, the creation of digital editions should be left to those who actually like digital publishing, not to the accountants, and certainly not to the old folks in the corporate suites.

Another minor bug fix update was for Star Touch, this is the new tablet edition from the Toronto Star (see TNM report here)>. The app uses the La Presse+ platform and is free to access (though you have to sign up for a subscription, the subscription is free).

Roku-4-os7Other updates:

CNN has updated both its iPad and iPhone apps to make them iOS 9 compliant.

Google updates for Google Cardboard, Gmail and its main search app.

Roku has issued an update for its iOS app remote. The maker of the most popular streaming TV device will be releasing its newest model on October 21 (see TNM report on the Roku 4 here).

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