OC Register for iPad is the iPad edition of the Orange County Register local newspaper. In amidst the big national titles on the iPad, it’s a ‘little’ title with big ambitions. In the welcome note to readers for the iPad edition, the editor promises:
We have taken a different path from others. What you see is not the newspaper in tablet form, but a new ,more lively, entertaining, and engaging experience.
That’s quite a bold statement, especially from a local newspaper. I’m a big follower of newspaper and magazine titles for the iPad, so any time I see an iPad edition with these sort of strong ambitions I’m interested straight away, excited even to see if the title can live up to them.
So I’ve been checking out the OC Register for iPad over the last couple of days – and I’m impressed …
Here’s some of the App Store intro and features list for the app:
You are invited to experience the OC like never before with the Orange County Register iPad app! The app offers locally-focused content and highly interactive feature stories not found anywhere else. And, for a limited time, all the content in the app is FREE.
The Register’s iPad app is loaded daily with compelling information that is essential to life in Orange County. You’ll have access to 60 timely, relevant stories in six different categories – News, Sports, Business, Trending, Things to Do, and Photo/Video Gallery.
You’ll enjoy a multimedia-rich, magazine-like experience that is custom-made for the iPad, where you swipe, tap, and play with content to the full extent of tablet technology. Much of the content publishes exclusively to the app, and cannot be found online or in print.
The Register’s iPad app includes:
– Original articles
– Slideshows including full screen video and 360-degree photos
– Real time data, info-graphics, charts and illustrations
– Voting, rating and other interactive capabilities
– Breaking news widget
– Live local weather and traffic
– Ability to download full editions for offline viewing
– An archive of past editions and feature stories
OC Register for iPad is a free app. For now, the daily issues are also free – though the publishers have said that ‘in time’ readers will be asked to pay to compensate for staff and production costs, so we can expect to see a paid model and likely subscription plans in future.
The app uses a standard bottom nav bar, which has buttons for Home (the front page), Page Viewer (a slider showing thumbnails of each page in the issue, tap any thumbnail to go to that page), Feedback, Help (a nice overview of how to get around the app), Library (issues you’ve downloaded), and Store (where you find all available issues).
Navigation in articles uses the almost standard method of swiping left and right to move between articles and swiping up and down to move around the individual article.
There’s an updated daily edition for download Monday-Saturday at 6:00PM. The Store section of the app shows all available issues. You can preview an issue and download it. Downloads are pretty quick, show you percentage progress while downloading, and nicely pick up where they left off if you happen to switch out of the app during one. All your downloads are available for offline reading.
— The content is strong. It goes well beyond ‘just’ local news, and many of the articles are lengthy and relatively in-depth pieces. It’s also varied and has several fun daily items – like a Deal of the Day post and a Today in Sports History quiz question.
— Articles look great in both portrait and landscape modes.
— The front page is just superb. It shows off a featured story of the day, and then showcases content from six main sections in very nicely done thumbnail sliders. The sections are: News for o.c.,Sports, Business, Trending, Things To Do, and Photo/Video. The sliders are smooth and take you to an article that interests you with a single tap. There are also widgets at the top right of the page for Latest News, Live Traffic, and Weather.
Today’s featured story is an excellent piece on gadgets that have defined generations, and of course it includes a 1984 Mac …
— The thumbnail sliders throughout the app work very well; and page loads are extremely smooth and fast.
— There is lots of interactive content – including some great photo slideshows.
— There’s support for AirPlay video! This is the first newspaper app I’ve seen that offers this, well done. Videos play in-page, with an easy button to toggle full-screen on and off, and also boasts a lovely little AirPlay button.
— Text and fonts are done well throughout the app; all the elements on pages are formatted perfectly for the iPad.
— One of my favorite features of the app is that it handles article text beautifully. It doesn’t just offer standard double-tap and pinch to zoom. It goes further and adjusts text size on the fly as you are pinching to zoom in or out – even showing you the percentage the text is at as you do so. This is a super slick feature; one I’ve not seen in any other newspaper or magazine apps for the iPad and one that feels Apple-like in its cleverness and elegant execution.
— Photos are good in the app as well, and presented very well.
— There are lots of nice ‘little touches’. Just as one quick example, the Weather widget can be tapped to toggle between current conditions and five day forecast, and you can set your location by zip code – even if you’re not in the o.c. area.
— The bottom nav bar is constantly on the screen – it should toggle to hidden with a tap on the screen, as it does in many other titles. The same goes for the small left and right navigation arrows at the bottom left of the screen.
— The Feedback page goes out to the newspaper’s online site – and it’s not quick to spot where any Contact Us sort of links are. This should be much better done, via a native page within the app.
— There are a few places within the app where content is loaded from the paper’s online site. On these pages you can’t swipe in the same ways you can in normal articles, so it’s a little bit of an inconsistent element in the interface.
— It’s lacking a number of social elements at the moment. You can’t yet share articles. There are no links to contact article authors. There’s no search capability, and text cannot be selected for copying.
It’s very clear that the folks at the OC Register have swung for the fences with their iPad edition; and happily they’ve hit a homerun with it.
It’s great to see the ambition in this app, and to see how much it lives up to it. From the first time I opened it and throughout the time I’ve spent with it, it just feels like a proper iPad edition.
I also have to say it never feels like ‘just’ a local newspaper. It feels much more like a national title or a leading magazine title. I follow iPad newspaper and magazine titles very closely, and this is one of the very best I’ve seen.
Here’s an App Store link for OC Register for iPad; it’s a free app.