TabTimes Flips Onto iPad With New App
Friday, June 1, 2012
Taking its cues from Flipboard more than digital magazines or even site mags like Engadget's Distro, the app reformats content pulled from the site. The editorial is always fresh, but the formatting is much more designed for flipping. Each article has a splash illustration and scrolls vertically to completion. The reader swipes laterally across articles or accesses the full trove via a drop down table of contents. The TOC is especially helpful in that it is more flexible than most. Tapping the section (News, How-To, Features, etc.) in the left column of the TOC pulls in current headline to the right side. It allows for very precise navigation into an otherwise unwieldy feed of Web content.
The Settings menu can set text size and color and even lets you determine how many articles you want the app to download at start for offline reading. The sharing tools are excellent. A plus tab on the lower right of every page brings up a bottom third screen that allows the user to post a comment about the article, bookmark it for later reading, or share it via email, Facebook Twitter or LinkedIn. We also like that the top line menu bar has a thumbs up icon that renders the ten top articles at TabTimes, both by user choice and by editor’s choice. The search query box is also handy and renders top results in a small overlay that doesn’t force you to leave the page.
The app can be sluggish at open, and we had a few instances where the load screen actually never advanced until we killed and reloaded the app. The app crashed several times as well. The TabTimes home button just seems to refresh the contents and drop you to the latest article. This isn’t a bad approach, per se, but we do wish for some kind of print-like cover experience.
But overall, Tabtimes seems to have taken to heart their own experience covering tablet content and the many business and consumer apps that preceded it. The interface is very functional, and the Flipboard-like formatting is a pleasure to read if not quite as compact and compelling as Flipbord or Zite. Clearly some bugs need to be squashed and perhaps some progressive downloading would make the startup experience snappier. But other Web sites could do worse than take this as a model for app-ifying dynamically refreshed content.
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