A New Era
Now that Android tablets are finally rolling out with Android OS 3.0 (Honeycomb), it is great to see some applications taking advantage of the new innovations that Google has introduced. CNN has brought their A-game with this news app for Honeycomb. After watching some of the overview videos, it is clear to see that this app is fast, refined, and useful. Featuring tons of images and videos, the CNN news app helps usher the same old text content into the 21st century. Let’s dive into what makes this application tick and see if it’s right for you.
Speed and Function
The first thing that stuck out to me was that this application was really fast. Scrolling through many articles full of photo thumbnails felt like a breath of fresh air on the Motorola Xoom. Will this experience stay the same on other Android tablets? Only time will tell. From what the video shows, switching between articles and videos while listening to CNN Radio in the background seemed effortless. This app is definitely making strides by taking advantage of the hardware to provide a smooth experience.
A Full Experience
In the app, there are many additional functions you can utilize other than just reading the articles. One of these is the ability to view a live video feed from CNN. Unfortunately this stream isn’t the same as what airs on live TV, but it is very up to date and relevant to what’s currently happening. Another neat feature is the ability to stream CNN Radio inside the application. Feel like multitasking? Listen to CNN Radio in the background while browsing through articles without any interruption. Last but definitely not least is iReport. This part of the CNN news app basically gives you the power to add your own commentary to existing stories or to create your own story from scratch. iReport can utilize both front and rear cameras to shoot still photos or videos, giving you the power to submit what is going on in the world around you.
Clean and Easy
You might like CNN’s content and the ability to access all kinds of multimedia, but how is it all organized? Great content with bad organization can really make or break an application. Luckily, the team working on this app really thought that through and there is no question that things are where they belong. When you first open the application you are presented with a category pane on the left and article tiles complete with thumbnails on the right. Across the top and bottom are menus and navigation buttons to guide you through the application with ease. Swiping gestures can also be used to navigate through the menus and scroll through articles. In the menus, swiping horizontally will allow you to explore the different categories while swiping vertically allows you to see more article tiles.
The Basics Done Well
While inside of articles, you have access to a lot more than just the text. The left pane features the simple article text while the right pane features the comment system, ads, and a Bing search page. Is the Bing page just a static ad? I’m not sure. It looks like a fully functional search page but why is it there? This app has looked great so far but I’m puzzled by CNN’s move to integrate this. Search pages aside, commenting and sharing are both features that we’ve come to expect in today’s Internet age and CNN has delivered. Underneath article titles are buttons that allow you to easily share articles on Facebook or Twitter. Want a different view or feel the need to add your own? Check out the right pane which features comments which can be toggled on or off. The ads seem unobtrusive but I wonder if CNN could eventually create a subscription model without ads. As of now, it looks like they’re going to keep this ad-supported model which is definitely going to keep it competitive against other free news apps from other news outlets.
Are you convinced that this app has all you need for keeping yourself informed and up-to-date? Don’t just take my word for it. Go download it from the Android Market at the link below the video if you have a Honeycomb device. (Normally, I would post an AppBrain link but AppBrain does not have this application in their database.)