Review AZ Today iPad Magazine

The Arizona Republic recently released a new iPad magazine called “AZ Today“.  [download] They requested feedback on Twitter.  After spending some time reading it here is my review.

“Drop the non-local content.  Add more of the great quality images.  Connect with social networks more.”

Cover Grade:  C 

The cover just lacks something.  It doesn’t seem to come together.  It feels more like a high quality image with some text thrown on top.

Contents Grade: C

The contents section is so bland. Seemingly uninspired and inconsistent in type and feel.

Gallery: Grade B

The whole notion of world news being stuffed in a magazine called AZ Today is the kind of thing that always amazes about the AZ Republic.  Trying so hard, yet failing so spectacularly.  It starts well with some local bits.

Then it moves to completely uninspired and out of place national and world news.

At this point, I am ready to give up.  Another miserable failure from my beloved local rag, but then I give in and decide, just one more swipe.  Finally, there is delivery.  Photos from around the state.  It’s Arizona highways super charged.  Drool.  #whyaz

I am in love.  This should have been your minimum viable product.  I want this section delivered me to every damn day.  However, you failed by not allowing me to share these on Facebook or Tweet them to my followers.

Captivate Grade : B

This section starts strong with a nicely laid out piece from the cover on the death of Arizona’s only Jaguar.  Then it has a stunning story on highlining with great photography.  So well done.  Is this the AZ Republic?

This leads right into a piece with a powerful opening image and teaser, but degrades after the swipe to mediocrity.

The Behind the Lens included a nice video and some sharp photography.  The layout left something to be desired, but I applaud the full use of the device.

Then it all falls a part and the wheels come off the wagon.  It starts with world images (sorry there are 50 apps in iTunes that do this better), followed by two weak stories reaching to be world news and the intro into the crap called azcentralsports.

AZ Central Sports Grade : F

The intro slide (not included) was so lackluster that I was embarrassed to show it for them.  It then jumped right into the local sports scene.  The problem is it was Dan Bickley’s three trending tops.  They sucked and some weren’t local.  Don’t call it the “local” section and have an article about Roger Clemens and the Hall of Fame.

Top Tweets?  Seriously?  You are trying too hard to act like you understand social media.  If you must put something like this in at least give us something that is more meaningful. Make this by sport and give us top tweet from every player on the team from each sport.  Make it worth my time.  Allow me to “retweet” the content I am reading at a minimum.  Engage me.


The rest of this section was just too painful to even talk about.  Maybe I am spoiled by really great examples of sports done right on mobile devices by so many others.  Go play with a few things by ESPN.

Amuse Grade : B

It was clever to add a peek into inspiring valley homes, but you didn’t use the functionality of the device enough here.  Give us some video, let us use accelerometers to view 3D views of the rooms.  Give us something more than quality photography.

The Sweet Treats was done well.  Allow us to enter the contest directly, it’s interactive you know.  You saved yourself with quality navigation and presentation on recipes (not shown).

The image viewer in this section was done right.  Zoo Lights fantastic.  More of this please.

The Then and Now was clever.  This is using the device at it’s fullest.  Showing the historic photo and then allowing me to wipe away to reveal the new photo underneath.  I look forward to additional content in this area.  I could see an entire app on AZ History using this technique in places.  Reminds me of the book by Allen Dutton.

Overall Grade: B –

Get rid of the non-local content.  Allow me to interact by sharing with my social networks.  Make the sports section not suck.  You are close to having something worth talking about here.  I am sure others will be much harsher critics, but as someone dying for quality local news I am encouraged that you are making the effort.

Developer Ignite 2: Location, Location, Location

Here is my presentation from Developer Ignite #2: Location Location, Location…

Abstract: Global Positioning System (GPS) has been around for fifty years, but with the rise of GPS enabled mobile platform it has just started to gain real traction. The Internet allowed for easy global commerce and communication, but GPS enabled mobile devices are bring back the emphasis of local. There is so much data available to us that localizing it helps make it manageable. If you are developing applications today you need to understand the value of location.

Check out all the other presentations and be sure to submit for the next one!

Top 10 Things You May Not Know About The iPhone

I always wanted to do a dumb ass top 10 list.  So here it is!

  1. It has out sold xbox 360.
  2. It is more powerful than the Nintendo Wii.
  3. iTunes now sells 25% of music in the United States. (okay not just an iPhone thing)
  4. It has pushed over 1.5 BILLION applications to users.
  5. It has over 25,000 applications available for download.
  6. It has 67% mobile browser share.
  7. It is the most used camera on Flickr.
  8. It has top jackasses breaking up with it on their high traffic blogs.
  9. It has the ability to crush an entire mobile network in a large city.
  10. Endorsed by last decent president we had in office.

$50 Billion Available to Mobile Innovators (iPhone Bailout Plan?)

At our tech accelerator Gangplank we get pitched an idea at least once a week that attempts to solve one of two problems.

  1. Local businesses have few effective options to advertise because direct mail, radio and newspapers are losing traction.
  2. Existing marketers/advertisers are running out of viable mediums to use for their customers.

We have been tracking the space for the last 12 months with lots of interest, but have long struggled with what is the right strategy to “track” effectiveness. While newspapers, magazines and radio have no real way to track effectiveness, they tend to get away with it because they were “grand fathered” in as already being accepted. Counting the number of “eye balls” is sufficient for them to base pricing on.

Click-thru web advertising has ushered in a the age of “prove it” before I will pay you. Something similar needs to happen on the non “internet” side of things. A “brick-thru” so to speak. A way to track conversions and pay on a sliding scale.

The mobile company I’m involved with Held, LLC has put together a platform to address some of these concepts. We have working pilots and companies actively testing the platform. Initially we started the platform as a research project to test all functionality of the iPhone including geo spatial awareness and connecting back to the cloud. It wasn’t until we started sharing our research findings that we realized the true potential.

I opened the Wall Street Journal the other day and saw the following graph:


These numbers are in BILLIONS!!! Everyone seems to indicate newspapers are failing. Radio and magazine’s are not growing. Think about that for a minute. That is $50 billion in advertising looking for a home. As you can see by LOCAL TV @ $28.8 billion that local is important. I think that mobile which is not on the chart is going to be competing for those dollars. Mobifestival this weekend will hopefully explore these opportunities more. If you are interested in this space or technology drop me a line. I’d love to meet and discuss.

$10 Million Android Bucks

I was watching Britts soccer practice last night and skimming through YouTube videos. I happened to find this Google Android Demo video:

Love the concept, but think the UI is horribly ugly. Free Software aspects are nice. Anyhow the kicker is that Google has squirreled away $10 million in funds to dole out to new fresh android applications. What is crazy is that I have seen virtually no press on this. What gives? THoughts?

iPhone Hacking

So over the weekend seeing Josh Knowles’ iPhone presentation I really got motivated to do something with my iPhone. I was a little nervous until after code camp I had to have something fixed on my phone and I saw the restore process in person and was a LOT less nervous.

Earlier this week Gizmodo had a link to hacking your iPhone. It looked too easy.

I saw something today that Navizon had GPS for the iPhone. So today during lunch. I said okay.. I am going to do this. Crossed my fingers and prayed I wouldn’t turn this thing into a brick!

I started by doing the following.

  • Download and save to Desktop
  • Ran System Update to get latest version of iTunes
  • Connected iPhone to Mac with cable provided w/ iPhone.
  • Synched iPhone with iTunes (so would have a copy of data if things went wrong)
  • De-Activated “automatic sync” in iTunes and quit iTunes.
  • Double clicked saved to desktop.
  • Followed All Instructions given by

Once Installer was done and installed on iPhone, I promptly installed:

  • Community Sources
  • BSD Tools
  • OpenSSH
  • Terminal
  • Navizon GPS

I encourage everyone to play around. If you iPhone freaks on you at any point you can hold the “action” button and the button on the top to “reset” a frozen iPhone. Happy Hacking!