Tamil language daily, Dinamalar has launched a news app for Apple’s iOS platform supporting iPhone/iPod Touch devices. We wonder why Dinamalar did not release a universal iOS app that could also support the iPad, which offers more screen real estate. All the more reason, when another Tamil publication, Maalai Malar released a universal app, a week prior to its launch. Although, tablet adoption is still at a nascent stage in India, the device is gaining popularity when it comes to serving the purpose of an e-book reader or a magazine/news paper shelf.
- Standard iOS UI Design: The app follows the standard iOS UI design scheme, with a row of five buttons at the bottom, for switching between Home, News, News from the State and Cinema News sections and More (content). The header houses a small stock update and cricket score ticker, very similar to the NDTV and OneIndia apps, which have also been developed by Robosoft. The News sections feature a horizontal scroll bar at the top, for browsing sub-sections. Note that interface elements like buttons and menus feature Tamil text, so the language integration looks more complete, compared to OneIndia’s app.
- Social Sharing & Comments: The app integrates social sharing on Facebook and Twitter, in addition to sharing via E-mail. The app also lets users post and view comments on stories, which is interesting. Bookmarking stories as favorites and increasing or decreasing font size is also included.
- Content: The app features content from Dinamalar’s website. The news sections feature news categories such as business, cinema and sports, among others. The app also features dedicated news sections for Sports and news of interest to NRIs. It also offers a local news section featuring news from cities and districts of Tamil Nadu. Video and Picture gallery sections, in addition to weather forecast, horoscope, stock market info, and cricket score cards are also included.
-Interface: It supports both portrait and landscape view on the iPad, and features news divided into various sections, in addition to a ‘Breaking News’ Ticker at the top. The landscape mode adds a sidebar with the ability to browse other stories in a particular news section.
- Social Sharing & Bookmarking: The app features social sharing via Twitter, Facebook and Email. It also features a bookmarking system wherein stories get saved to a ‘My Saved Stories’ drawer, which is available all through out the app, for reading them later.
- News content: Apart from featuring major news stories from India and the World, the news section offers local news from different cities and districts in the state, stories related to cinema, sports, women, health & wellness and religion. The app does not include video and picture galleries.
We wonder why the Maalai Malar app does not take advantage of iOS’ multi-tasking ability. If the user exits the app accidentally, or wants to quickly check his email or Twitter, the app reloads, displaying the home section. We found that the app crashed a lot of times. We hope that the problem is resolved in the next update. Also, the drawer takes a lot of space, and can be replaced with a small button that expands.
- Personalization: Both apps can add the ability to offer personalized content, on the basis of user preference.
- Integration with external apps such as Instapaper or Readability to read stories later.
- Push alerts for breaking news stories, similar to the one offered by NDTV’s app.