This month’s app-themed reviews look at PressReader – a new way to read your morning newspaper – and Human Defense Viral – a game to keep you up at night.
As an iPad owner, I love the convenience of technology. But as someone whose dream home blueprint includes an enormous library, I find digital versions of books quite depressing. There is something irreplaceable about the feel of a printed book, magazine or newspaper in
my hands. On this basis, I should hate the PressReader app, the mobile reader and store for the world’s most popular newspapers. Turning the pages of a daily through this iPad app should break my heart, but it doesn’t – it’s just too darned convenient. First of all, when you subscribe to a paper, it is automatically delivered to your iPad or tablet every morning. Gone is the need to prance down the end of the driveway in your pyjamas to retrieve a copy of your favourite newspaper. And instead of having the awful black toner residue on your hands and having to fight with 50 pages of thin pieces of recycled paper, you can actually spend your time reading the news.
PressReader allows readers to enjoy the same layout of a printed newspaper with pages that are essentially digital replicas of the original. Individual articles can be read in ‘Smartflow’, where text is formatted to fit neatly in the mobile screen – an easier alternative to scrolling and zooming each time you want to read a section. There are some other nice features, such as the ‘on-demand audio’ which will read the paper to you – a particularly useful option when you are on the treadmill and getting dizzy from trying to read the jiggling paper.
Even though PressReader offers 2,300 different newspapers from 97 countries, this does not include all newspapers that have their own app: there is no New
York Times or The Wall Street Journal. I did, however, find the local newspaper from my college town of Saratoga Springs, NY. Localised offering are a bonus: I can get a copy of the New York Times almost anywhere, but where else can I get a copy of the Saratogian? While the app is good overall for those who just want to read the paper, it does no justice to my favorite section of any paper, the entertainment section. The images of the comics and crosswords in some newspapers were so poor that I simply couldn’t read the captions. In terms of usability, everything is fairly straightforward but I have some gripes with ‘sharing’. The app’s description page boasts that you can share article clips on Facebook or twitter and save clippings to apps such as Evernote and Instapaper. I expected to highlight the text and tap an option to share the clipping. Instead you are required to tap and hold on the desired section until the options appear. I would have preferred a less fiddly, more intuitive process, closer to how information is transferred in apps designed by Apple. Single issues can be purchased for $.99 (£0.69) or unlimited monthly downloads for $29.95 (£19.45), which represents good value, given the selection on offer. While
PressReader is not going to replace printed newspapers for everyone, the expansive catalogue, ease of reading, and clean interface will win many converts.