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Washington Post iPhone app not winning very many friends

Mel Martin

Somehow in my recent comments on News apps I missed the Washington Post effort, which has been recently updated. It's not a home run, combining a subscription cost and intrusive ads.

The app, called Wash Post costs US$1.99 a year. Wash Post contains articles and photos, and it allows you to share content via Twitter or e-mail. The app has built in search, which helps to make up for some of the shortcomings I'll detail later.

The Washington Post is a bit schizophrenic about their content. You can pay for this app, or you can go to their iPhone-friendly website for free. That's right -- you get the same content and pictures for free at the website that you pay for on the iPhone. Like many media companies, the Washington Post is eagerly awaiting the time when they can charge for all online content. What I don't understand is why they're charging for the content in the iPhone app and giving it away for free at the website? Why not be just a bit consistent?

Navigation on the app is OK. I found the fonts to be a bit large, with no way to adjust them. There appears to be a way to customize the home page to your pre,nces but no instructions on how to do this. You can drag sections down to the launch bar at the bottom of the screen, but I'd hardly call that customization. Even worse, there is no link in the app for support or more information.

It's difficult to find work in the app by a favorite writer or columnist. You can search on the name of the writer, but that seems excessive. The ads are too large, and seem to be mostly from the Post itself. I guess advertisers aren't exactly lining up to get on this app.

It's kind of surprising to see big media companies stumble on these apps. The AP iPad app is an unholy mess, and the New York Times hasn't made any friends with the iPad app they offer.

The Washington Post, one of the marquee names in news, just doesn't fully get it with this iPhone app. Comments at the app store are equally negative. I'd save your money on this one, until it's improved and/or free.

Full disclosure: In the 80's I worked for the Washington Post Company. It's still a great company, but I think they have lost their way with this app.

The Wash Post app runs on the iPhone and the iPod touch. It will run on the iPad in the 2X mode, but there is no dedicated iPad version yet.

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