The Gulf News iPad application has been downloaded 17,786 times since it was launched in March, according to Apple statistics.When we started, the tablet application was about discovering a new platform and becoming part of the New Age of journalism.Nearly six months down the line, as the editor who heads the section which includes the tablet team, I can safely say it has been a steep learning curve.When we began, no real statistics were available for iPad news application usage, especially in the format that we were venturing into.Most news applications had gone for the conservative process of automatic feeds from their websites. It was a safe option but did not offer that much more than a smart phone application. It looked different because of a designed interface skin.Gulf News Editor-in-Chief Abdul Hamid Ahmad explained it best: "Our tablet application is unique and when we decided to launch, we chose to be a real application not just a web-based news feed."We moved ahead to meet the criteria of our publication on the iPad, which serves the brand that is Gulf News but on a new platform with a different feel and look. I emphasise, it is not a repetition of print, not a reflection of the website. They're two complete daily editions with mainly features and news."We decided to go with the concept of editioning curated content on the tablet platform. What does that mean?Well, a team of highly-trained multi-media editors select the best of our newspaper content, which covers hundreds of stories. They then work on its content to optimise it for the tablet platform, along with adding photographs and other visual elements that might not have made it into the newspaper.This new curated edition, called Morning Coffee, is released every day by 11am. The next edition brings the day's top stories from around the world conveyed through visual journalism. Again, selected by the dedicated team with input from the design and photo sections. Titled Going Home, it is released at 6pm.We took a risk by going against the tide but if you want to be a leader — innovation is the key.The decision was not all smooth sailing. We had more than our fair share of detractors.Abdul Hamid Ahmad said: "Readers who got used to the web-based news feed applications, as majority of the news houses were following that path, didn't like our application in the beginning."Their initial expectation was that it would be a web-based news feed but found it was not and weren't happy. We welcomed the negative feedback from some of these readers. We understood their reaction."But we knew our focus and by keeping that in sight and developing the application in content and functionality, we are proud to say that our reader visits jumped by 210 per cent, especially over the month of July. And all of it is direct traffic based on data received from Google Analytics. And the downloads have reached a cumulative figure of 17,786."We consider this a success for a news application of this nature from the region," he said.
Dr Mario Garcia, CEO of Garcia Media and the main international voice for editioning on the tablet, along with curated material —much before anybody else thought of it, agrees. He was involved in the development of the Gulf News Tablet application.Dr Garcia said: "The tablet is such a unique platform that smart newspapers simply do not dump all of their content from print without giving the stories longer legs, allowing for the uniqueness of the platform to enhance the storytelling process. The Gulf News Tablet does that. But all tablet editions are merely in their infancy, and we learn as we go."On July 31, the Gulf News Tablet launched its latest update — version 1.11. It now offers a Top News feed button from gulfnews.com."With the Top News updates now available, the Gulf News Tablet should provide a wonderful balance of the curated special edition iPad app, while maintaining those who wish to be ‘connected' updated at all times," added Dr Garcia.Gulf News Tablet is in an evolutionary process and the most important part of that are our readers.The application is free and offers you the opportunity to connect with your trusted brand on a new platform with an added dimension.So, log onto the iTunes App store, install the application and let us know how we can be better.
From / Gulf News