The Guardian’s long-awaited iPad app is coming soon

10 Oct 2011

The much-anticipated Guardian newspaper app is about to be launched and editor Alan Rusbridger says the new app will recreate the sense of editorial hierarchy that readers experience in printed newspapers.

The Guardian is renowned as one of the few newspapers to have embraced the internet successfully and counts more than 50m unique visitors a month.

While the newspaper was among the first out of the gates with an iPhone app when the iPhone emerged four years ago, fans of the paper have been eagerly awaiting its iPad app even though the first-generation iPad is now approaching its second anniversary.

Mark Porter, a design consultant working on the Guardian’s iPad project, said in a video highlighting what’s coming: “The Guardian is renowned as an organisation that takes design seriously. And of course design is not just about what things look like, it’s how they behave, how we function, and how we use them.”

Rusbridger said that while the new app will reflect the traditional sense of editorial hierarchy in how stories are placed, it will be less of a breaking news app and offer readers more of a reflective read.

“This digital journey is changing everything we’re thinking about journalism,” Rusbridger said.

“When we started the Guardian on the internet in 1997 we deliberately created something that was of the internet. That original decision was one of the reasons why the Guardian has an audience of 50m on the internet.

“We appreciated that this (the iPad) was a different medium.

“We’re not going to be scrambling to update it every hour. We will do that on the browser where you will also go to look for live blogging and other material.

“This is going to be a different read … a bit more reflective.”

Recreating the digital news experience

Rusbridger said the iPad app team looked at newspapers already on the iPad but felt that while they were beautiful to look at, they were simply recreating the newspaper on the device.

Porter said the important thing was to try and recreate the sense of editorial hierarchy readers get when they read a print newspaper.

“We came up with the idea of a simple grid but stories could occupy two or four cells and immediately created an architecture where there’s a form for bigger, smaller and intermediate stories that users and readers want from an editor. We’ve imposed a hierarchy that up until now has been absent from the digital news experience.”

Porter also said the Guardian team has created a new advertising system that enables a clear separation of advertising from editorial but at the same time opens up an entertaining experience.

Rusbridger said the new app will be one more step on the digital journey. “It will be a really interesting incarnation of the Guardian … but there is never going to be a final incarnation of the Guardian.”

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years