Comparing Apple news site apps for iPhone at a glance

Since I've compared iPhone Twitter apps, weather apps, podcast apps, and calendar apps, it's time to put my app where my scrutiny is and compare Apple news site apps, including iMore's, at a glance.

There's an interesting debate when it comes to websites-as-apps, and perhaps most poetically, Apple news sites as apps. Some think Safari on iOS is good enough that a website should just be a website, and packaging it up as an app is artificial at best, bloated at worst. Others believes that apps provide functionality beyond Safari and the web, including native performance, and the potential for native features like push notifications, pod catching, and more. Still others think the iPhone, due to its smaller size and more mobile use-case better suits websites-as-apps than the larger, yet still portable iPad. The internal discussion at iMore and Mobile Nations over making the iMore app touched on a lot of those points, and more. Ultimately, we've made on for the iPhone -- just now updated to version 2.0 -- but we haven't yet made one for the iPad. The discussion continues.

Other sites no doubt have gone through similar discussions, and each has made their own decision, determined their own value, and if they made it app, made their own choices about why and how to present themselves in a native, compelling way.

Default UIKit vs. custom interface, pulling the page via UIWebView vs. pulling the data and reformatting it, ads vs. no ads, and much, much more goes into planning and implementing a website-as-app. Not including international versions/site, forums apps (I'll do those separately at some point), general news/RSS or other aggregator apps (likewise), here's a glance at the content list screen of some of the most popular Apple (or generic tech that also includes Apple) news site apps.

  1. iMore, Engadget, BGR
  2. The Verge, TUAW, AppleInsider
  3. SlashGear, TechCrunch, App Advice
  4. TidBITS, Mac Life, iClarified

And as a bonus, since some of you complained one screen shot per app wasn't enough, here are the single article views.

The comparison is, of course, limited and incomplete. Some popular Apple news sites don't have apps, like Daring Fireball, MacRumors, 9to5Mac and The Loop. Some of the sites pictures above also include extra features, like iPad versions, podcast players, push notifications, forums integration, app recommendation engines, and more.

However, it does show some of the different opinions that went into making the basic functionality and design of an Apple news site-as-app. Checking them out, what's you feeling? Should websites stay websites, or do you like what going native has to offer?

Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.