My home town’s daily newspaper switched to paywall model this week. This switch includes full news content available through an iPad app. The app is built on NewspaperDirect’s PressReader software that I reviewed earlier this year.
PressReader for iPad: Newspaper Replica App That Actually Works Well & Looks Good
The newspaper chose the least objectional paywall option: Subscribers of the paper newspaper get complete access to news content via the web and a iPad app. And, breaking news is visible to everyone on the web.
Honolulu Star-Advertiser Premium (iTunes App Store)
I had a problem initially where web access worked but the iPad app would not accept my account name and password. An email to the newspaper’s support staff cleared up this problem in less than 24 hours.
The PressReader software works as well as can be expected of an app that produces a visual replica of a paper newspaper. It is not optimal for news presentation. But, it works as well as can be expected given the design constraints. And, the app presented either a new feature or one that I missed during my reivew of PressReader earlier this year: Tapping an article headline brings up an overlay window with a headphones icon in the bottom left corner. Tapping starts a reasonably good text-to-speech engine that reads the article out loud to you. There two big advantages of reading a newspaper online (even in a replica editin):
1. There are no ink stains on fingertips.
2. Color photos (even advertisements) really pop out on the iPad’s display. Photos look so much better than on relatively low quality news print paper.
There is one important missing feature: There is no way to electronically share an article with someone – the equivalent of passing a page or section to someone. The only way to share something is to use the app’s option to print a page or print the entire screen (refer to the screenshot to see these options).
Can an essentially small town paper survive with a web and app paywall? As I said earlier, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser chose the least objectionable paywall option. At the very least, they will not loose paper subscribers since the subscription includes web and app content access.