This is one of those iPhone apps that’s going to broaden my horizons a bit – because I can see myself becoming a much more regular – and deeper – reader of the WSJ because of it …
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Review: The Wall Street Journal Mobile Reader for iPhone

Wall Street Journal Mobile Reader for iPhone

WSJ Mobile Reader for iPhone

WSJ Mobile Reader for iPhone

It ‘s been a while since I ‘ve seen a noteworthy new iPhone newspaper app.  The last couple I can recall were both European titles and both very well done “ El Pais from Spain, and the UK ‘s Telegraph.

Last night though, a brand new native iPhone app for the Wall Street Journal hit the App Store. The Wall Street Journal Mobile Reader for iPhone is a new entrant in this category that ‘s sure to grab a lot of attention and “ if it ‘s done right “ a lot of loyal iPhone readers.

I spent a fair amount of time with the app last night and this morning, and I ‘m very impressed so far.  Hit the jump for some of my thoughts, and lots of screencaps showing off the rich content this app offers

Way back in the days when web apps were all we had on non-jailbroken iPhones, the Wall Street Journal came out with a very good iPhone optimized site.  The site is still available at: http://mobile2.wsj.com/.

Great Content & Other Things To Like About WSJ on The iPhone

As good as the optimized site is, I have to say this new native app is a much richer and more compelling experience.  Here are some of the reasons why:

Content “ lots and lots of good content.  I know the WSJ is an excellent, trusted, source of financial news “ but this app really shows off the range of good content it offers in other areas as well.  As only an occasional WSJ reader, I hadn ‘t realized just how much strong non-financial content it offers.

The three main article topic areas in the app (with bottom nav bar buttons) are ‘What ‘s News ‘, ‘Markets ‘, and ‘Editor ‘s Picks ‘ “ but there is a ton of other good stuff waiting within the ‘More ‘ section.

WSJ on iPhone

Like a section for content from the ‘All Things Digital ‘ site that features the writing of Walt Mossberg, Kara Swisher, and others on gadgets and tech business news

WSJ iPhone native app

And a strong Technology section

WSJ iPhone app

There ‘s also a good selection of video clips

WSJVideos

There ‘s even a surprisingly strong Sports section

Wall Street Journal on iPhone

A Handsome, easy interface “ The app ‘s user interface is solid and easy to navigate through in most places.  I like the ability to swipe left and right when reading an individual article to move to the previous or next article in that section. You can also do this via Back / Forward arrows at the top of article screens, but the swipe ability is a nice addition.  Article listing views and individual article views both combine text and graphics well, and are nicely presented.

You can customize the bottom bar contents (which sections are there for one tap access) “ via the Edit button in the ‘More ‘ section.  You can swap out default bottom bar section icons for ones that you prefer “ so, for example, Technology has replaced Markets for me, straight away.

I also like the ‘Save ‘ feature “ to save articles out to the dedicated Saved section for later review or similar.  And of course you can email an article easily as well.

Some Room for Improvement

There are also a few things I think could be done better in the app

One improvement that could be made to navigation would be to offer a persistent method of returning to Home / Main sections.  Currently, when you read an individual article, you have to hit a button to take you back to the article ‘s content section (one step back up the contents structure) before you see the bottom nav bar buttons that let you go straight to main sections of the app.  It ‘s only one extra step, but it ‘s a bit clumsy.  It would be better to make the bottom bar a constant throughout the app, or at least offer a Home button somewhere at the top of all screens.

Building in some social / community features would be a good idea I feel.  In addition to just being able to email an interesting article, it would be to the WSJ ‘s advantage to make it easier to share an article via Twitter and other popular social media sites.  On the community side of things, there needs to be a way to respond to articles “ to leave comments on them, or easily shoot off a mail to the article ‘s author.

My one slightly larger criticism of the app ‘s look and feel is that the Oracle sponsor branding banner is currently too intrusive.  It ‘s a BIG banner, and infringes too much on content for my liking.  See the screencap below, where it is chopping into the very first paragraph of the article ‘s text.

OracleBanner

The WSJ Radio section needs some filling out “ it currently offers no choices on what to listen to and just takes you straight out to a sort of daily WSJ podcast (I think “ its ‘ not labeled or identified yet).

Overall Impressions

I like the Wall Street Journal Mobile Reader for iPhone a lot.  For me, content is what makes a great newspaper, and the content on offer in this WSJ app is great.  I ‘d love to see the Oracle branding toned down, and some other relatively minor improvements, but this is already a very strong app.

I ‘m only an occasional reader of the WSJ, and usually of just very specific writers / sections.  This is one of those iPhone apps that ‘s going to broaden my horizons a bit “ because I can see myself becoming a much more regular “ and deeper “ reader of the WSJ because of it

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