sunnuntaina, toukokuuta 20, 2012

Reading Helsingin Sanomat on the iPad

I have been reading Helsingin Sanomat on the iPad for 3 weeks. Here some first impressions:

No News Stand integration

The HS app does not integrate into the iPad News Stand, which means the morning paper is not automatically downloaded and waiting for you when you sit in the breakfast table. The download does not take very long, so this is not such a bad thing, just a minor annoyance.

The download for the weekly Nyt addition, on the other hand, takes a really long time, a few minutes. And the same goes for the Kuukausiliite.

Only partial articles available

Nowhere in the HS for iPad description does it say the articles would not appear in full. In practice, it seems long articles are truncated on the iPad. Sometimes the articles are truncated in mid-sentence, which makes me think there is maybe some internal maximum length for the article that sometimes cuts off the end of the story.

This is really infuriating! Today there was a long article in HS about the trials and tribulations of the Talvivaara mine and after reading it for 15 minutes I discovered the article ends in mid-sentence.

HS for iPad is not available every day

Like I described above, the HS app does not integrate with the News Stand. Instead it works like this: When you open the HS app for the first time in the morning, the thumbnail of yesterday's paper flies away from the screen and a thumbnail of today's paper flies in. Then you can click on the thumbnail and a progress bar will appear and after the download is complete, the paper opens up in full screen.

Except on some days the old paper does not fly away and the new one fly in. I don't know why. There is no indication of any error. There is no button to force it to check for a new issue. I checked several times during the day but the paper was not available.

The next day the new paper flew in. And now if I check the archive view, I can see the missing paper there and I can download and read it a day late.

I appreciate I can read the old issues to get up to speed but I still think the idea of the newspaper is very much in it being there in the morning with fresh news. (And remember, in the age of the Internet, the news in the daily newspaper are not that new.)

The ads

And finally, there are the ads. Yes, even when you are a paid subscriber, you still get to see the ads. There aren't that many: There's the ad on the front page, like in the HS dead tree version and then there is a full-page ad between sections of the paper, like between domestic and foreign news.

I have nothing against there being some ads, because the ads are also there in the dead tree version. I understand the subscriptions do not bring in enough money for Helsingin Sanomat to pay for it's staff so they must sell ads. 

But I do not want to be bothered by the ads.

Some of the ads in HS for iPad are animated, they take a long time to load and while they are loading, you cannot turn the page. You just sit there swiping across the screen and nothing happens. Eventually the ad has loaded, starts going thru its animation and eventually the app starts accepting user input and turns the page. On any other device this would probably be normal, but on the iPad the users have become used to the device being fast and responsive. An app that does not respond to user input sticks out like a sore thumb.


I am on the fence. The things I described above are annoying. On the other hand, I value the investigative work that goes into making a quality newspaper and I understand it does not come free, and I would like to give them money to support that work. And the free articles on the HS web site are short versions of the ones that appear in the paid version. And the Kuukausiliite with its excellent content is only available for paid customers.

I don't know. If they would fix the issues above, it would definitely recommend subscribing to the paid version, but now... I just don't know if I will cancel or not.