The Guardian has released a paid-for iPhone (and iPod touch) app that makes reading the UK newspaper on Apple’s device a truly smartphone experience.
Along with features such as the ability to customize the newspaper’s ‘front page’, support for audio, finger-friendly navigation, including ‘swiping’ through photo galleries, the feature that really stands out is off-line browsing.
As I write over at TechCrunch Europe, the functionality…
… works in a similar way to music streaming service Spotify’s own iPhone app. Sections of the newspaper can be ‘cached’ in advance to enable access when outside of a WiFi network or mobile signal. As with listening to music, this is particularly appropriate for reading a newspaper on-the-go, such as when commuting on London’s Underground or any other subway for that matter. The app also offers access to the various Guardian podcasts, which can be downloaded in advance or streamed.
Even though we are (slowly) moving towards a world where our data lives in the cloud and broadband access is ubiquitous, there are always going to be times when a reliable Internet connection simply isn’t possible. However, with mobile apps incorporating caching functionality, such as Spotify and now The Guardian’s offering, we’re seeing the lines being blurred between cloud-based and locally stored content. This hybrid approach, if the user experience is done right, has the potential to offer the best of both worlds.
Might an off-line mode be the mobile Internet’s killer feature?