The New York Times announced today that it is launching a new HTML5-based web app accessible to iPad users at app.nytimes.com. While called an “experimental web app” in the press release, the move mirrors a switch by other publications such as the Financial Times, which released a HTML5 web app last year in response to Apple’s subscription guidelines. The New York Times also already has a similar HTML5 app available in the Chrome Web Store. The press release explained the new app is available to digital subscribers with tablet access and optimized specifically for viewing on the iPad:
The app is available exclusively to digital subscribers to NYTimes.com with tablet access, which includes the Web + Tablet and All Digital Access packages. It is also available to home delivery subscribers who link their account for digital access. Subscribers are encouraged to send feedback about their experience with the app.
Apart from getting around Apple’s subscription guidelines and being able to control payments and the data associated with subscribers, many publications made the move to HTML5 to avoid having to redesign its apps for multiple platforms. However, for developers writing apps that rely on more processing power than a reading app, the ability to make the switch from native apps is not as easy. Speaking with the Montreal Gazette, the CEO of Aviary, which develops photo-editing apps, called it “completely unrealistic”:
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“There are still nuances for each browser and platform, and you end up with a product that will work 75 per cent as well as it should across the board instead of 100 per cent on each platform,” said Avi Muchnick. “Everyone will need to have an HTML 5 version just to support something people can access from a browser, but the best apps will be developed natively.”
Within the new New York Times web app, you will find four views for discovering content:
1. Trending: The Trending section lists the top 25 trending Times articles on Twitter from the past hour. This section functions in conjunction with Cascade, a proprietary data visualization tool developed by The Times Company’s Research & Development group, which monitors the sharing of content on Twitter.
2. Times Wire: A continuous, reverse chronological feed of the latest articles, videos and slide shows published on NYTimes.com.
3. Today’s Paper: In this reading format, users can browse the app like they would the newspaper, with sections organized under print topic headings.
4. All Sections: The full breadth of Times coverage, from breaking news, to video and photography.