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National Geographic TV app a disappointment

Mel Martin

I love National Geographic Magazine. I love their HD cable channel. I really dislike the free app they have released today for the iPhone.

The app is designed to let you know what the cable channel is airing, and you can certainly browse the schedule. But there is no search option, so finding what you want to watch is a festival of fruitless finger flicking. Not very helpful really.

Then there is a button marked video. Sounds good to me. Tap it and you get a list of videos, like 'Finding the Titanic.' Sounds interesting. Tap it and you are taken to a page that says video 'not available on mobile.' What!!? I tried them all. How many videos played? Not a one. This is a pretty incredible mistake for an app that advertises video. There is even a 'Safari' button, so I thought I could tap that and play the videos in Safari. Not a chance.

There is a blog button, and I read behind the scenes stories about the programs that are so hard to find in the schedule. Some were interesting, and there were some pictures, but you'd think an organization known for some of the most beautiful photography in the world could display some of that in an iPhone app. No, actually, the pictures selected are rather mundane.

Even though this app is free, it seems like a real misfire. Schedules that can't be searched. Videos that can't be played. Pictures that are, well, let's be honest here, uninteresting.

I don't know if Nat Geo is to blame or some developers who should know better. I'd say skip this app until Nat Geo can offer something of value and get its act together. One last comment: Seems like anything from National Geographic would be a must for the iPad. Uh uh. This version is iPhone only, and there is no date for an iPad edition. Of course you could run this app on your iPad and the underwhelming images would get bigger and lose resolution.

I'm just sitting here scratching my head. A reputation is a terrible thing to waste.

Late update from National Geographic: "We're experiencing a glitch with the video feature and are working to fix it ASAP, and I will let you know of the resolution. For your reference, the experience one should have through the video feature is to be able to watch them on his/her iPhone via the YouTube app, with the "back" navigation allowing users to return to NGC app as they wish."


An even later update: This morning the Nat Geo team told me the video problem was fixed. I tried it and none of the videos played back. Even worse, some of the blogs appear to have embedded video but the video is Flash based, and can't play on the iPhone.

Screen shots below:

Gallery: Nat Geo TV screen shots | 4 Photos

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