The Wall Street Journal finally comes to Newsstand
It took a long while, but The Wall Street Journal has finally come to Apple's iOS Newsstand. The paper joins thousands of other publications that are publishing via the magazine/newspaper service, and like many, the Journal's gone for a traditional layout that echoes that of the dead tree version. That said, the Newsstand distribution of the Journal is significantly more flexible than its paper cousin, offering full-screen image viewing, three text sizes, social network sharing options (that frustratingly don't use the built-in iOS sharing and require separate authorizations), and faster navigation between articles. It's not quite the authentically-digital that is The Magazine, but it's better than the PNG/JPG images that many publications are unfortunately vomiting into Newsstand.
The app uses a traditional newspaper-style layout, putting the headlines and preview ledes for multiple stories on a single page with an assortment of thumbnail images as well as larger stand-alone photos and videos (the only way you're getting video with the paper version is by using it as a massive flipbook). Navigation between pages of both the article preview grids and within the articles themselves is accomplished with a simple swipe to the left or right, though you'll have to contend with numerous fullscreen ads interspersed throughout. Apparently the $12.99 the paper asks per month for an iPhone subscription or the $21.99 a month they want if you want full access on an iPad (which also includes iPhone and website access) isn't enough to cover their needs, though it is worth noting that's the same price the Journal charges outside of the App Store system, and through Newsstand Apple's going to be taking a 30% cut. Additionally, the pinch gesture works as a back command, dropping you out of the article and into the previews, and from there to the 'start screen'.
As is standard for Newsstand subscriptions, the latest daily edition of The Wall Street Journal will download itself in the background. The Newsstand edition of the Journal also allows you to save articles for offline reading and offers up-to-the-second stock quotes and market news - it is The Wall Street Journal, after all. Many of the articles throughout the app are marked with little key icons, indicating that you're going to need a paid subscription to read them. There are still plenty of articles that aren't locked down, though those are mostly general news you can get anywhere and not the in-depth market and economic reporting for which the Journal is known.
By accepting the 30% cut demanded by Apple, The Wall Street Journal is acknowledging that they need to be present in full on smartphones and tablets like the iPhone and iPad. You're welcome to balk at the monthly cost of the subscription (especially if you're wanting to read the Journal on an iPad, as the same content is offered to smartphone users, it's just... smaller), but that's increasingly becoming the rule when it comes to 'old' media making the transition to new platforms.
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Derek Kessler is Special Projects Manager for Mobile Nations. He's been writing about tech since 2009, has far more phones than is considered humane, still carries a torch for Palm, and got a Tesla because it was the biggest gadget he could find. You can follow him on Twitter at @derekakessler.