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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 (opens in new tab), Engadget (opens in new tab), BGR (opens in new tab)
  2. The Verge (opens in new tab), TUAW (opens in new tab), AppleInsider (opens in new tab)
  3. SlashGear (opens in new tab), TechCrunch (opens in new tab), App Advice (opens in new tab)
  4. TidBITS (opens in new tab), Mac Life (opens in new tab), iClarified (opens in new tab)

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.

  • Personally, I do not use websites' apps. I prefer to go with Tweetbot as a RSS Feed Reader and Safari when I want to go straight to a website.
  • I really like the news app. It feels a bit more direct and personal. The apps don't feel as intrusive / bothersome as they are not usually over loaded with external links an advertisements - I can get right to the news. Just the way I like it, however...
    What I cannot stand is that every single news app I use "bloats". Badly. I have to delete and reinstall the apps on my iPhone monthly because the more I use them, the bigger their documents and data get.
    What data are they storing on my device?
    If it's "cache" data, why can't it auto clear after a week or so?
    Why don't the app developers include a cache clearing setting?
    It's a problem.
  • I'll throw my $0.99 in for an iPad app. I do so much more reading on it since I bought it. (and interestingly enough, more so than with any of my android tablets that I used to have. Just something about my iPad 2, that makes reading more visually appealing and fun. Not a knock on android, as I enjoy using both platforms. But the ipad really blows the competition away.) I digress... I would pay $0.99 for an iMore iPad app.
  • I always prefer the native apps, especially on 3G. By the way, havn't tuaw and maclife update to iphone 5 resolution?
  • No, nor has Macworld.
  • Hey Rene, the Verge needs their news listing image fixed. You accidentally linked a single article image. Also, shame on TUAW and Maclife for not updating their apps on the platform they cover.
  • Rene, What about the app? It's got one of the best designed ios apps out there, with great notifications. Although, they still need to update for iPhone 5 too.
  • Why bother with separate news apps? Hasn't anyone heard of Flipboard? I believe its better than downloading individual apps. If iMore was on flipboard I wouldn't have downloaded the iMore app.
  • instead of going through different apps i prefer to use rockmelt and add all my favorite sites in one app.... a simple and straight rss reader
  • C'mon, Rene - you should know better than to direct people away from iMore and to other sites...
  • My favorites are iMore, Engadget and Apple News. The layout is much easier to follow.
  • I have tried most of these apps, and I say that the iMore and Engadget apps are the best. Visually, and in article variety.