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.