That rumored new Washington Post app launched today, bringing with it a free 6 month subscription for Fire tablet owners. Based on the time I spent with the app this morning I can say that the new app is a huge improvement over the old.
While the older app offers a basic but limited reading experience, the new app offers better performance and an ad-free reading experience with bigger pictures and more related content embedded in articles.
The old app launched last year, can be found in Google Play and the Amazon Appstore, and is both free to download and use. It's supported by adverts, and the app is also tied into the WP's digital subscription plan.
The new app is available today for Fire tablets, and will be pushed out as an over the air update (which can be deleted, don't worry). The new WP app will be available on other Android devices next year, but those users won't be getting the 6 months free. Instead a subscription will cost $3.99 per month on other devices, according to the New York Times. Fire owners will get the second 6 months of their subscription for a single buck.
As you can see in the screenshot below, the old WP app interface offers a status bar across the top of the screen, an ad along the bottom, and 3 stories in between. You can scroll up to see new stories, or open the slideout menu on the left and switch to a specific section.
The app isn't working so well today due to the excess load on the WP's servers (both apps are affected), which is why the larger panel can't load. But it did work just fine when I tested it in October (when the rumor broke).
And the app was able to display the articles just fine:
Okay, the titles did get eaten by the status bar, and the ad took up a lot of screen real estate. The layout also isn't as pretty as in the latest apps, but I've seen worse.
The new app, on the other hand, offers a more modern design that has huge lead pictures with the title overlaid. You swipe up to see more text from a story, tap a story to bring it full screen, or swipe to the left or right to see other stories.
The status bar across the top and side are not removable, but other than that it looks good in landscape mode. Unfortunately, when you switch to portrait mode the layout implodes into a marginally useful mess:
Luckily most of the problems go away when you read an article.
The new WP app displays an article in a style similar to most Flipboard like apps. It offers the same basic features (sharing, bookmark, and font size - nonfunctional) as the old WP app, but the new app also offers more embedded videos and has sidebars inserted into the text which link to related coverage.
I think the sidebars and videos take up too much screen real estate, but on the plus side a reader is only a click away from a lot of additional detail on a story. That is a major improvement on the old WP app.
All in all, the new app is a major improvement on the old, although I do wish the weather info and slideout menu had made it into the new app. On the other hand, the new app replaces the statusbar with an active menu bar, which is an improvement.
The new app's slideout menu design is a lot busier, which I don't see as a good thing. You can see the difference here:
So what do you think of the new app?