The historical media verticals of radio, television, print and Web evaporate inside the frame of an iPad — it’s all just content, backlighted and inviting, waiting for the swipe of a finger. Long-form narrative and news has found a reliable wing man in the iPad.
On the desktop, we clink links, scan the result and then click some more, drilling down in search of information, but never actually reading much of anything.
Because of its screen size and relative heft, the iPad allows and encourages the user to quit typing so much and lean back and actually read something. And in the process, it renews the romance of reading: People want to touch what they are learning about, and the iPad enables that intimate relationship, along with reading something longer than a Twitter post or a news alert. A few of my favorites:
BBC NEWS (FREE): With its smartly organized grid on the left and column on the right, the BBC app enables quick skims and deep dives with equal facility. It’s a pretty, non-buggy window on the days events around the world. A news ticker at the top keeps the reader up to the minute and there’s an option to listen to BBC radio live as well.
NEW YORK POST (FREE): Let’s say that someone, and we are not naming names here, has a bit of a taste for the tabloid side of the street. But it might seem less than green to buy a dead tree version of the New York Post just to look in on Page Six and see what kind of war the sports section is attempting to gin up. The New York Post’s app is so there for you. Good horizontal and vertical navigation, with a drop down bar that gets you to where you want to go. Miss “the wood,” the screaming front cover? No worries. On the iPad, you can make your own tabloid cover and send it to a friend. A useless, but totally seductive utility.
INSTAPAPER (FREE AND $5): You are doing a ton of Web research at your desk, but no time to digest. Instapaper let’s you mark a document and then later, say leaned back in a chair after the house has quieted down for night, go through all those documents in a clear, clean, easy to read format. The $4.99 you fork over for he paid version of Instapaper on the iPad may be the best sawbuck you will ever spend, allowing your to archive Web pages for offline reading in an iPad optimized format that makes reading long-form content a pleasure.
NETFLIX (FREE, BUT $8 MONTHLY FEE) : It’s bedtime and your spouse is watching “House Hunters,” which is a great show and all, but blows a whistle you cannot hear. That device on your nightstand that you have been checking e-mails with can instantly spring to life with all manner of streamed movies and television shows from Netflix. Just hit play, pop in your headphones all while holding hands with your partner. You are alone, watching what you want, but you are alone together.
REUTERS NEWS PRO (FREE): For the business minded, Reuters has separate buttons on the bottom for current information on markets, stocks and currencies. And the main page bifurcates horizontally into top news and video, with a horizontal navigation that invites skimming across lots of rich content. Once you are deeper in the app, there is a drop-down index that lets you see news by country and region.