Fairfax media has released long awaited Android Tablet apps for The Age and Sydney Morning Herald into the Google Play Store. Content is being delivered to the apps free for a limited time however Fairfax media is pushing to erect a paywall to hide their content behind and monetize something that people have pretty much come to expect to be free.
The Play store app descriptions specify the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, Motorola Xoom and Asus Eee Pad Transformer TF201 tablets as compatible and advises that the apps are only supported on devices with a 1280×800 resolution and running Android 3.1 upwards. I was able to install the apps on my HP Touchpad which runs CM9 on a 1024×768 resolution but found there was an issue with resolution straight up as you can see the side was cut off this image and I can only assume the premium content is provided by Telstra for the time being.
Both apps weigh in at 2.9MB to download, however you will of course need to download content daily once inside the app. From the menu you can determine which extra content you wish to download, you can select from the Good Weekend, Sunday Life, Good Living, Domain, Metro, Drive, Traveller.
Once content is downloaded, the articles display nicely and are easy to read. Using the apps is fairly simple, although you can see pretty much straight away that they are direct ports of their iOS equivalents. You can send feedback from the iOS style menu and quite frankly they need it, if they are going to target tablets and ask for payment then they would do well to adopt the Holo style theme.
Whilst you can go into the app and read articles, if you want to use extended features such as commenting, saving articles and setting up alerts you will need to setup a Fairfax membership account. Sharing options are a little strange as they only give access to share via Twitter, Facebook and Email and when I list these options I mean the actual Twitter App I couldn’t choose my personal Twitter app although when choosing Email I could actually choose GMail, Facebook sharing was also via the official Facebook app.
Other features offered in the apps include video content which plays quite nicely, you can also load up the daily Sudoku puzzle and also setup weather alerts for multiple locations, simply enter in your postcode and it brings up the current weather information as supplied by Weatherzone.
Basically this seems to be a real Beta version of both apps, it’s a good start but if Fairfax media expects Android users to pay to get content through these apps they need to give a much better experience. These apps really raise the question to me of are we ready to start paying for news content through apps such as these?