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iPad for Marketing App Review – News360°

November 2, 2011

News360° is a next-generation news app designed for a truly personalized experience. While it’s nothing new to tune an app to search and prioritize news through the “Settings” feature, News360° is one of the first  to translate social media “likes” and “dislikes” into an actionable news filter.

News360° is a next-generation news app designed for a truly personalized experience. While it’s nothing new to tune an app to search and prioritize news through the “Settings” feature, News360° is one of the first  to translate social media “likes” and “dislikes” into an actionable news filter.

Readers tap the “Settings” menu to sync News360° with social media, bookmarking, and RSS reader sites, including Facebook, Twitter, Evernote, Google Plus, Google Reader, and more. When I synced with Google Reader, News360° automatically pulled topics into the “My Interests” area for aggregation with the topics I’d already chosen within the app.

Now, privacy-patrollers alert: readers can opt-out of the social media integration at any time and create an account the “old-fashioned” way using an email address and password, then tinkering with the “My Interests” to tune feeds.

Click on a news story and up pops a headline and leading paragraph or two. Swipe down to open the actual source article. Going back and forth between app and source article is seamless, and navigation is easy.

Really cool: Readers can switch to 360° view and browse images, no words, as they scroll left and right. Tap one that’s intriguing and the article title and source appear. Choose to read more or keep scrolling other choices. If readers stop moving the screen, the scrolling restarts and automatically refreshes the image list of stories. It’s a great way to meander through stories.

Unfortunately, all the slick functionality came to a screeching halt when I tried tuning the app manually under “My Interests”. It’s easy to set up new categories, either by clicking on their palette of existing categories, such as Travel, Education, Military, Markets, MLB Baseball, etc.; or, by typing in a keyword. Problem is, sometimes choosing a category abruptly closes the app. Or choosing multiple topical areas causes the app to layer the icons one atop the other in a blurred mish-mash of text and images. And the custom feed I set up to test “healthcare” failed to populate anything but a “come back later” sign after 24 hours. I found this hard to believe, given the prevalence of healthcare reform discussions daily, so checked on the News navigation bar under “Health” and there was plenty of content. Disappointing that my preferences are slow to load, if they did at all – feels like a letdown after the promise of über-customization.

Digital marketers should note that searches are limited to keywords and topics. The searches I tried by feed URL came up with no matches. So getting to your content is a two-step dance, at least.

There is a back-door way, though, to add to “My Interests” – and it’s clean, easy to use, and worked well. Just tap the search icon and up pops a menu of topics, objects, sources and articles. Select one you like and tap “Add to    My Interests” to organize into a new or existing category.

Unfortunately, as with so many of these iPad news apps, News360° hasn’t seemed to catch on that they should be talking to publishers. There’s no publisher-focused info on the News360° website or in the app itself. What’s clear however, is that if you’re using social medial to engage customers, your content has a better chance of finding the iPad apps your customers increasingly use every day.

The Final Verdict

The reader experience:  B. It’s an intelligent concept and the navigation is slick. Once News360° gets “My Interests” to work, it’ll approach A-range quality.

The publisher experience: B+. If your feed’s out there, News360° can deliver it. But your customers may have to add your feed to Google Reader first.

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