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#GEN2012: Netizine ‘turns magazines into social networks’

May 31st, 2012 | No Comments | Posted by in Magazines

A new HTML5-based service that aims to “connect” magazine readers – allowing them to share, recommend and comment on what they’re reading with like-minded people – has been showcased at the News World Summit in Paris.

Netizine is in invited beta mode at the moment and aims to “turn magazines into social networks”, building communities around content and bring interactivity to magazine pages.

Readers interested in the same subject can chat about articles on the page itself and join groups around specific topics. Editorial teams would also be able to connect with readers in real time.

Magazines can be personalised and bookmarked to read offline – and Facebook and Twitter are integrated directly into each page.

There’s a video explaining more about the service on the Netizine website.

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Economist launches US election web app

January 11th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted by in Mobile

The Economist has launched Electionism, an HTML5 web app for tablets, focusing on the US election.

Publishers will be interested to note the development of an app that works across a range of tablets, including the iPad, Galaxy Tab and Kindle Fire (yet to be released in the UK), and will also soon be available on the Blackberry PlayBook.

Rather than being downloaded from an app store, it is accessed by following a link in the tablet’s web browser.

Although designed for tablets, a simple version of the app works on mobile, presenting a Tumblr blog-style format (indeed, the app is “powered by Tumblr”).

This is the the Economist’s first foray into a web app that will work across several devices, unlike its range of apps native to Android and Apple’s iOS.

Electionism includes content from the Economist, CQ Roll Call and other noteworthy election reports from around the web.

Tom Standage, digital editor of the Economist, said in a release:

Electionism combines the Economist’s day-to-day opinion and commentary on the US elections, from our Webby-award-winning Democracy in America blog, with detailed on-the-ground coverage from CQ Roll Call and our picks of the best election coverage from elsewhere on the web, all wrapped up in a tablet-friendly format.

Nick Blunden, global managing director and publisher of the Economist online added:

It is extremely important to us that we provide our readers with not just commentary and analysis, but also the opportunity to discuss and debate the key issues. By building content sharing functionality through Facebook, Twitter and email into the Electionism app, we have provided readers with the ability to engage others in a conversation around the election.

Electionism was created by the Economist Group Media Lab, an internal product innovation group, and built in conjunction with its Toronto-based technology partner, Pressly.

  • Tom Standage, who is quoted in thus post, will be speaking at news:rewired, a conference for digital journalists organised by Journalism.co.uk. See the agenda, list of speakers and list of delegates. Tickets cost £130 +VAT and can be booked using the ticket page. More than 140 tickets have been sold. Book now to avoid disappointment.
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#MozFest: Six lessons for journalists from the Mozilla Festival

The Mozilla Festival took place this weekend and provided journalists, open web developers and educators with a place to learn and to build.

Here are six tips from the festival, which was called media, freedom and the web.

1. In less than a week there will be a Data Journalism Handbook. Created in 48 hours with contributions from 55 people, the first draft was written at the festival and is due to be published next week. The book provides journalists the chance to get to grips and to learn from some of the key data journalists in the UK and abroad.

2. Journalists can now create web native, social video using Popcorn Maker. Take a video and add web content including tweets, Flickr photos and Google Street View images. This is a hugely exciting development in online video journalism.

3. Expect exciting developments in HTML5 news web apps. Developer Max Ogden presented a live web app in the final show tell which added photos tweeted by the audience with hashtag #MozFest. In real-time the images appeared in the app displayed on a large screen. This type of app has huge potential for news sites and user-generated content.

4. SMS may not seem like cutting edge technology but should not be ignored when it comes to engaging with the audience. Text messages can be automatically sent to Google Fusion Tables and uploaded manually or posted to a map in real-time. Here is an example where the company Mobile Commons enabled San Francisco public radio to map listeners’ earthquake readiness.

5. It will be worth keeping an eye on the five Knight-Mozilla technology fellows being placed in newsrooms at Al Jazeera English, the Guardian, the BBC, Zeit Online and the Boston Globe to see what is produced. Each news organisation selected an individual based on an area of journalism they wanted to develop. The five will now be embedded in the different newsrooms and tasked with bridging the gap between technology and the news.

6. Want to get to grips with HTML5 for journalists? Do you want to start coding but don’t know where to begin? The w3schools site offers guides to HTML, HTML5, CSS, PHP, Javascript. If you want to start scraping data then ScraperWiki, which allows you to scrape and link data using Ruby, Python and PHP scripts, has some hugely useful tutorials. If you simply want to take a look to see how HTML actually works within a webpage then Hackasaurus has an x-ray goggles tool to allow you to do just that.

There were several sessions, including on WordPress, trusting news sources, tools for a multilingual newsroom, online discussions, text edit for audio and real-time reporting, which were were unable to attend. Search for the #MozFest hashtag for further reports from the festival.

Photo by mozillaeu on Flickr. Some rights reserved.

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SoundCloud launches HTML5 widget viewable on iPhone and iPad

November 3rd, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Mobile

SoundCloud has today released an HTML5 player enabling audio recordings embedded in news stories to be viewed on an iPhone or iPad.

The move will no doubt be welcomed by news organisations and podcasters, keen to embed audio in posts but aware that the iPad and iPhone audience cannot view them as Apple devices do not support Flash.

In an announcement SoundCloud lists the features of the public beta version of its widget and named those who have been using the first test version.

  • iPad/iPhone mobile support
  • Attractive new waveform design encourages more interactivity with the sound
  • Timed comments now are more usable on the widget (at the request of users)
  • Easier to view information about the sound (e.g. title, person)
  • Easier sharing (e.g. Facebook Like, Google+ and Twitter sharing options)

In addition, this HTML5 widget is the first move to provide creators with clearer indicators of possible sharing actions and further transitions SoundCloud away from a pure music player to more robust, interactive sound object. Thus far, Britney Spears, Big Time Rush, Wattpad, Intelligence Squared (a global forum for live debate), Future Human Podcast and West African Democracy Radio have been using SoundCloud’s HTML5 widget and as this beta test is the first iteration, subsequent versions will include even more social elements.  The public beta is built on a new HTML5 technology platform that will allow SoundCloud to add new features to the widgets at a faster pace from now on.

Last month, SoundCloud announced a partnership with Storify, allowing users to add SounCloud recordings to the curation site.

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Adobe Edge promises animations viewable on Apple devices

Adobe has launched the first HTML5 editing tool: Adobe Edge. The new software allows designers to create animations for news sites using HTML5, CSS3 and JavaScript rather than Flash.

Unlike animations built in Flash, Edge moving graphics can be viewed on Apple’s iPhone and iPad.

Edge Preview is now available as a free download for both Mac and PC while Adobe encourages and gathers feedback.

According to a release:

Edge Preview 1 focuses primarily on animation and motion, with upcoming previews featuring additional creative capabilities and functionality.

Adobe states that Edge is designed for evaluation purposes only.

We do not recommended that this release be used on production systems or for any mission-critical work.

Even those without previous experience of creating animations can have a go at importing pictures and graphics, adding text and drawing simple shapes, and then add them to the timeline and try out key framing and transitions.

Users can then add the animation to news stories. Adobe explains how this is done.

Edge stores all of its animation in a separate JavaScript file that cleanly distinguishes the original HTML from Edge’s animation code. Edge makes minimal, non-intrusive changes to the HTML code to reference the JavaScript and CSS files it creates.

An article on ReadWriteWeb explains how Adobe has released Edge to sit alongside Flash rather than immediately replace it.

If you are a designer, let us know how you get on with Adobe Edge by leaving a comment below

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Paywall rises on FT’s ‘flexible’ iPad and iPhone web app

The Financial Times paywall will go up on its new web-based app this week, which has so far reported encouraging stats with 150,000 hits during the first 10 days, during which time users have not been required to login.

“We’re seeing a strong conversion from the existing subscriber base who are using the iPad app and we’re also seeing a large cohort of new users as well,” Steve Pinches, group product manager for FT.com told Journalism.co.uk.

The new web-based iPad and iPhone app was launched on 7 June and is downloaded by the user clicking on the URL app.ft.com. It has received a great deal of attention from media organisations considering investing in native iPhone, iPad, Android and BlackBerry apps.

Advantages of web-based apps include flexibility: HTML5, the language the FT app is written in, has the potential to be used across different devices, reducing the cost and time spent in developing separate apps in different languages. The new web app bypasses Apple’s App Store and therefore avoids the FT losing a 30 per cent cut.

Pinches explained the FT will be prioritising development of the web-based app. Indeed the home screen to the new app states the FT is “encouraging our readers to switch immediately to the new FT web app”.

“It’s not that we are diametrically opposed to being in apps stores. It’s just that it makes a lot more sense for us to develop things in a web-based framework,” Pinches said.

“We have a business model that we’ve spent a lot of time investing in, which we feel is great for users because it gives them access across multiple platforms and whenever we evaluate any channel, we have to make sure it meets the basic criteria for us to be able to run our business as we do.”

As the web app can be used by both iPhones and iPads, it is easier to maintain than two separate natives. It also offers various new features for iPhone users, including video and images, which were not available in the native iPhone app.

Asked if there will be a point when they will remove the native from the App Store, Pinches said: “We’re still in discussions with Apple and that’s being handled by our MD”, and described talks as “amicable”.

Unlike the iPad app which was built by a company in Colorado called Wall Street On Demand, the new app was built by London-based Assanka, which also built the FT’s Android app, predominantly using HTML5.

“They built the Android app, that was their first HTML5 app so it’s been a pretty steep learning curve.”

“The next plan is to roll that code out into the big screen Android, the small screen Android, the [BlackBerry] PlayBook and webOS,” Pinches said.

That may manifest itself as a web-based app compatible with other platforms or more native apps, Pinches explained.

“We always want to keep the two options open: being able to launch as a web app or a native app or both.”

Related content:

FT looks to bypass Apple charges with new web-based iPad app

Nearly half of FT online subscribers accessing content via mobile

 

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FT sees 150,000 uses of new web-app in first 10 days

The Financial Times’ new web-based app has been viewed 150,000 times since its launch 10 days ago, which includes 100,000 hits in the first week of launch, the FT said in a media release today.

The FT is the first major news publisher to launch this type of HTML5 hybrid app, which can be viewed across a number of different smartphone and tablet devices.

Steve Pinches, FT group product head, said the app has received very positive feedback.

“Comments include recognition of the technical capabilities of the app and being at the cutting edge of technology. Users have also expressed appreciation for the improved speed of the app and look and feel enhancements when using on the iPhone.”

He explained where the app is heading.

“We will take a two-fold approach to improvements to the app. Firstly we will focus on adding new content to the existing app, including special reports, newspaper graphics and the ability to save articles for later. Secondly we will develop the app for other devices including Honeycomb, Samsung and BlackBerry Playbook.

“Our next priority is releasing the app for Android devices, both large and small screen. Following that we will work on an FT web app for BlackBerry Playbook.”

Initial analysis shows the ‘Companies’ section of the web-app is the most popular, followed by the Life and Arts section, which makes up around 10 per cent of consumption overall. Other popular features include Markets Data, World, Markets and Lex.

“Interestingly, we are seeing much more leisure-type usage, with user peaks early morning, evening and around lunch time. This suggests that as well as a core tool for use during the business day, like FT.com on a desktop, the app is an accessory being used on the way to and from work and planning for the day ahead.”

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#mobilemedia11: ‘Tablets are biggest opportunity for publishers’, says Bonnier

Tablets pose the biggest opportunity publishers have had for a long time and offer new possibilities for making money, according to Staffan Ekholm from Bonnier’s Moving Media+.

Speaking at today’s Mobile Media Strategies event Ekholm said tablet apps are now in a “crawling” developmental stage, and likened their position to where the web was in 1996 and 1997.

“Tablets are not just another device and channel,” he told publishers at the event, “you have to recreate the experience, packaging and marketing.”

He said the best people to drive the creation of tablet magazines and apps are the creatives, but with editors having total control in the content.

“If you are starting from scratch with a tablet app, think freely,” he said, but warned moving from print can be more problematic.

He encouraged publishes to be aware of the possibilities for engaging advertising, including using HTML5.

And the future of magazine tablet publishing? “It is all about products,” he said.

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#mobilemedia11: FT web-based iPad and iPhone app a ‘wake-up call’ to publishers

The release of the Financial Times’ web-based HTML5  app has provided “a big wake up call” to publishers , said Andrew Grill, keynote speaker at the today’s Mobile Media Strategies day.

Earlier this month the FT released an HTML5-based iPad and iPhone app which circumvents the 30 per cent charges levied on app sales by Apple by allowing users to update content through the FT website and thus allowing the newspaper to take the full revenue.

The Economist is “watching closely” and Tom Standage, digital editor of the title, signalled it may follow suit.

“HTML5 will be the answer to all of our problems; even if it’s not yet,” predicted Ilicco Elia, a mobile product expert, who until yesterday worked for Reuters and is yet to announce where he will be working next.

Elia warned that “you can’t do everything in HTML5″ and said it was a sensible option for the FT to launch in HTML5 compared with an unknown title. “It’s okay of you’re the FT because people know the brand in will go in search of it,” he explained.

Many publishers are now looking at the HTML5 hybrid: not a pure app, not a pure browser experience, said John Barnes, managing director digital strategy and development at Incisive Media, which works with B2B publishers. He explained the dilemma between developing apps when working with very different titles.

Barnes gave the example of two titles he works with: Legal Week, where 10.5 per cent of web visits are mobile, most of them accessing the site via a BlackBerry device. He urged the audience to compare this with Photography magazine which is mostly read on the iPad and iPhone.

During a session on how to make money with mobile media, Paul Lynette, head of mobile advertising at EMEA, Microsoft Advertising, showed the potential for in app ads using HTML5.

Thinking of developing an app, an mobile site or a HTML5 hybrid?

Considering the advantages of mobile editions (m.editions) versus apps versus the HTML5 hybrid, Barnes said the advantage of m.editions is they are browser-based and, therefore, provide full integration with a CMS, have the same domain name, integration with analytics and web trends.

And for news sites without an m.edition Elia gave a word of warning to the delegates of the event: “You should not be here if you don’t have an m.edition, you should be in the office coding.”

He warned there is “not a lot of margin in mobile” but it should be central to any online strategy.

Elia warned of the importance of listening to your audience. “You don’t have to be first when it comes to apps,” he said and suggesting it was better to spend more time developing a better app.

Barnes had a different suggestion to those thinking of creating an app: “Write the press release on the launch of an app before you build it. You’ll often realise it’s a crapp (crap app),” he said.

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