‘You don’t have a subscription’ says The Telegraph paper app, blocking out the story I wanted to read.
It is something that happens all too often these days with The Telegraph – a paper I have paid to read on my iPhone. I have rung and emailed The Telegraph digital team for a response, some help, but no-one ever replies…
So, I do what I usually do – I go to Mail Online or The Guardian, The Times, The Mirror or The Sun.
Because as a journalist writing for all the national press, I have an abundance of free and paid for apps on my iPhone.
But which app is best?
On thing is certain – the battle for online readers has never been fiercer. Every writer wants their story to be read, every editor wants his or her paper to be the most clicked on (because that hopefully translates into more advertisers choosing your site and more revenue.)
And while readers will choose different papers, we all want the same newspaper app experience – we want an easy to navigate our news quickly, we want to read updated articles and be able to comment on stories on those sites.
So here’s my take on those newspaper app websites …
I feel sorry for the editorial staff at The Telegraph. They work hard to produce some excellent stories but their digital department severely lets them down.
Once The Telegraph app was easy to navigate and I used to enjoy reading the comments as well as occasionally adding my own. But then the comments were ‘permanently disabled’ and subsequently removed. And they have now replaced their once straightforward app with a clumsy, clunky old-fashioned model. It looks outdated – the font is something out of medieval times – and the sort of thing you see on a museum’s tourist handout. It is impossible to identify the latest updated stories and the whole site is extremely difficult to navigate.
Added to that it is plagued with technical glitches. Despite paying for The Telegraph app via my iTunes account The Telegraph – which again does not have any comments section – regularly locks me out. It doesn’t recognise passwords or even me. And sorry to say although I have emailed the help desk many times, no one ever responds. Even ringing The Telegraph is a nightmare – after listening to a lot of classical music, I finally got through to a girl who sounded as if she were on work experience from school.
“I find the error messages you are getting when you try to access The Telegraph app really interesting,” she said brightly, saying she would give ‘my feedback to the team’. However, bizarrely she could only suggest I no longer read The Telegraph saying, ” I don’t think it is something we can help with.”
Sadly I would imagine this sort of ‘customer service’ coupled with the sheer hard work of trying to find a story you want to read on The Telegraph app will see this newspaper, which deserves to be read, lose more readers. Unsurprisingly, this app comes bottom of my newspaper app list.
This app seems to be limited on stories. Basically a slimmed down version of the printed paper, it doesn’t appear to updated that regularly. I usually love The Sun with its snappy writing style and excellent photos, but unfortunately there are no added reasons to visit The Sun app – few extra stories are added during the day it seems. And when they are, they are very basic info only – something from an agency with no added detail. It also feels a very masculine site. Maybe the tech people are all men as there is too much emphasis is on football and sport.
I don’t know if The Sun app does comments but if it does, the comments section has never worked on my app.
It is a simple app and relatively simple to navigate. It is also easy to identify updated stories. But like The Telegraph app more prone to technical glitches than other sites. For example I regularly have to reinput my password details which is a pain. Hence, it is second from bottom I’m afraid.
The Mirror recently updated its app with a list of sections such as news, football, UK News, Celebrity News and so on which makes it easy to navigate. The site is very regularly updated with a great mix of stories. It feels fresher than The Sun app, which often appears full of yesterday’s news, as stories are added much faster and it’s clear someone has gone to the trouble to actually add more detail to those stories.
I haven’t ever experienced any difficulties with The Mirror app which is also free. This is why I highly recommend The Mirror app.
However, again does the Mirror app allow comments? If so I have never seen them which is why it is not my favourite.
Although I pay for the print and digital package of The Times and The Sunday Times, I often find myself reading the whole paper on my phone.
The Times app does update but only with major breaking stories throughout the day. Some stories in some sections are also not updated enough – for example I will see a story in the printed version of the paper and it will be hard to find it on the Times App.
There is also a shortage of photos on The Times site. I don’t need lots of pretty photos on my news stories but if I am reading one of their lifestyle pieces or property pieces then I expect to see all the photos connected with that story. All too often there is just one photo on the app but several in the printed paper, which is annoying.
There are no comments on the app – something I feel The Times really does need to address. I do get occasional glitches with The Times but generally clicking on The Times app is a smooth experience.
Because of that and because it is easy to navigate, gets stories on the night before so I can read them when I go to bed (and not just in the paper) and because of the way it is set out nicely in a grid, which I like, it comes up highly on my list.
The Times also does not just put agency stories straight onto its app – it’s clear there is added value to their stories which for me is another plus.
I absolutely love The Guardian app. It is always immediately updated with the latest news and its articles are informative and detailed. They regularly have live stories which are updated as they happen. So for this reason I find The Guardian app one of the best – if not the best. It is extremely easy to navigate and easy to see the latest stories. There is also the option to mark certain sections more highly so for example I can click onto their app and see the latest stories in their media section.
Equally I adore the way their lifestyle section is further divided into cookery, health, well being sections and so on. The money section is divided into property, savings, pensions and careers. It all makes for an excellent reader experience.
Throughout the features there are always added suggestions on further reading from older articles plus links to articles and further reading outside The Guardian.
I actually cannot praise The Guardian enough either for its comment articles – always easy to find next to the article the person is commenting on – so I can immediately see what their take on something is.
Talking of comments, The Guardian has lots – many articles regularly gain thousands of comments, which make really riveting reading.
I have never had any glitch whatsoever logging into The Guardian app. I have also never had any issue uploading a comment I want to make – and they are always swiftly available on the site for others to read.
All in all, an excellent app – an absolute favourite which I could spend hours on (and often do!)
Which brings me to the top newspaper app. I have to say here that for me it just clinches this position from The Guardian only because I do have to pay a small amount for the Guardian app whereas Mail Online is completely free.
And for me both Mail Online and The Guardian are equally fascinating because they are so different. For example if I want to read about political stories I will read both apps for the often wildly differing view.
Is there a story that Mail Online doesn’t have? Of course there will be those odd stories it doesn’t have – but suffice to say if the only app you read is Mail Online then you will have all the news of the day and more.
The Mail Online update is constantly refreshed and updated with stories – which are always well illustrated with photos, videos and extra reading suggestions. They are also detailed and someone has always added extra information onto them.
To its credit, Mail Online is strangely addictive. You might think you are not interested in celebrity stories but then find yourself reading about someone’s bottom. This is down to the excellent lay out and way they present their articles.
I have never had a problem navigating this extremely well though out site and I have never had a problem accessing it.
It is easy to add a comment on Mail Online and the app brings all comments up in an easy to read list – including different ways of reading the comments such as ‘best’ or ‘newest’.
Unsurprisingly Mail Online has millions of readers and is one of the top news websites in the world. Their success is simple – it gives readers what they are looking for in abundance. Because of this I doubt there are many people who do not have the Mail Online app on their phone.
Which is your favourite newspaper app? Have you had difficulties reading an app or logging into one? Tell me about it below…
- All apps discussed and compared as they appear on my iPhone.