Date: March 20, 2011
App type: News & Weather
Publisher: The Huffington Post
Release date: October 6, 2010
Phone features used: Location services, data connection, media library, web browser
Download Huffington Post for Windows Phone 7
While PC users have a wide range of high quality news sources to pick from on the general web, Windows Phone users aren't so lucky, at least not yet. Part of the issue, of course, is a simple lack of maturation, and some of my favorite news sources, like The New York Times do not yet make a Windows Phone app. (Yes, third parties have stepped in to fill that gap.) But there are some good choices, still. AP Mobile, a previous app pick. And this week's pick, the Huffington Post.
Co-founded by liberal political columnist Arianna Huffington, the Huffington Post is a great source of news, and its content is derived from both original reporting and aggregated from external blogs. It covers a variety of topic types, like a newspaper or mainstream news site, but I'm most interested personally in its breaking news and political coverage. In business for over five years, the Huffington Post was recently purchased by AOL for an astonishing sum, though it's unclear if this acquisition will impact the quality of reporting going forward.
For its Windows Phone app, the Huffington Post follows the now tried-and-trued formula of making its content work within the design considerations of Windows Phone. And it's a very simple app, with just two main screens, Front Page and Sections.
As you'd probably expect, Front Page mimics the content of the service's general web site, with a top story and then a long list of other articles. (The Huffington Post has curiously deep pages compared to other news sites.)
The Sections screen provides an obvious way to dive into the site's various topic sections, including Politics, Media, Entertainment, Sports, Comedy, Business, Living, Style, Green, Food, Tech, World, Travel, Impact, Education, College, Books, Arts, Religion, NY, LA, Chicago, and, go figure, Denver.
Within each of these sections, you'll see a view that mimics the app's main screen, with a top story (and associated promo graphic) followed by a very long list of articles. This screen also features an app bar (unlike the main page) that lets you navigate from section to section.
Individual articles will be displayed differently based on the source. Articles that are original to the site can be read in full from within the app. Those that are aggregated from other blogs include the title and an overview, and then a link to go read the complete article at its source (using Internet Explorer.) The article screens, like those of the sections, provide app bar buttons for navigate, in this case for moving to the previous or next article.
The app also provides simple sharing functionality: You can share a favorite article via Facebook, SMS text, or email directly from within the app. It will store your Facebook logon info if you'd like.
There are all kinds of things the Huffington Post doesn't do, like let you mark certain topics as favorites, or reorder them so your favorite topics are near the top. And it lacks some of the main site's best features, like the great photo slideshows. But the Huffington Post app is still very compelling for the same reason that the original site is: The content is usually excellent.