I had a swamped morning. When I saw, on Twitter, that CNN had launched a free iPad app I was pretty excited to give a whirl. To date there have been very few news apps for the iPad that have been worth a damn.
I am sad to say that the CNN app is among the worst news apps released for the iPad.
When you fire up the app the first page you see a grid of images with article titles. A lone ad sits at the side and everything looks and works in a decent fashion.1 You can switch between three main view modes to disseminate your news: Grid/Mosaic, List, and ridiculously large images with tiny headlines. I don’t know why anyone would want the latter. The list view may win the award for the most boring view state available on the iPad; it should be said that there are other apps with equally ugly list views, this just so happens to really look bad.
So you are stuck with the grid view if you want to keep your sanity.
Upon checking out all these view modes I was willing to forgive the app since reading the news is the most important aspect. I moved directly into the articles view and what I saw was more than disappointing: it is a blatant disregard for the reader. The article is held to the left edge of the screen (both orientations) and in landscape view it only takes up half of the screen. Half. What the hell is that about?
The other half of the screen is a lovely advertisement; you are also given the option to view comments and add yours in this space. So what CNN is essentially saying is that the content they write is of equal importance as the content their readers and advertisers write. Hmmm.
You get between 8-10 words a line with this layout. That is not abysmal, but it is pathetic. For the most part the column size remains the same when you flip to portrait view. The app sucks in either orientation.
I am glad I am done writing this post so I can delete the CNN app from my iPad.
Scroll sucks, but that is the case in most apps with this type of view. Look at Reuters for example. ↩