Nearly three months after the launch of its iPhone/iPod Touch apps, Tamil language daily, Dinamalar has launched a news app for the Apple iPad (download). Dinamalar claims that its iPhone/iPod Touch app has been downloaded 50,000 times and has received more than 5 million page views, per month. We feel that the iPad is the perfect device for reading news stories owing to its screen size and portability.  The app has been developed by Robosoft, who have also developed The Times of India’s iPad app and NDTV’s iphone & iPad apps.

Interface & Features: The app supports both portrait and landscape view on the iPad, and the header features tickers for cricket score, stock market updates and weather, which expand to give more information, with a touch. There is a dedicated sidebar featuring updated news on the right, and a footer that features the leading video and photo-stories. Both of these are scroll-able.  Similar to The Times of India iPad app, the middle columns feature news items. Individual news items expand within the middle-column, hiding the footer, however the side-bar stays, which means that there is no full-screen reading.

Navigation across sections is through a drop-down menu, which also houses ‘Favorites’ and settings for social-network integration.

Each story includes buttons for sharing on social networks, increasing and decreasing the text size, posting a comment and for bookmarking the story to favorites.

Social Sharing & Bookmarking: The app features social sharing via Twitter, Facebook and Email. It also features a bookmarking system wherein stories get saved  to the ‘favorites’ section, which is available all through out the app, for reading them offline.

Content: The app features content from Dinamalar’s website. It offers news and features across categories such as business, cinema and sports, among others, in addition to videos and photo-galleries.

It also features Dinamalar Specials such as “Tea Kadai Bench”, “Double Danapal” & Weekly features, Astrology & Daily Horoscope. The iPad app includes three new sections that Dinamalr claims to have created specifically for tablet readers: “Viki vs Vedhalam”, a rhetorical take on political issues, “Tweet, Karam, Coffee”, a twitter based section and “Net Gallatta”, a compilation of interesting images from the Internet.

Suggestions:

– The app can offer more Personalization options: Add the ability to offer personalized content, on the basis of user preference.

– Push alerts for breaking news stories, similar to the one offered by NDTV’s app.

– Integration with external apps such as Instapaper or Readability to read stories later.

– Full-screen view for stories can be offered for a better reading experience.

We like the fact that more vernacular publications are developing apps for mobile phones and tablets. Besides bringing Indic content to the Indian diaspora living overseas, it also adds up to the content available on these devices, giving another reason for the growth of these devices in the Indian market.