Review: PressReader by NewspaperDirect Inc.

Read all about it! PressReader – Newspapers from all over the world in the palm of your hand – no paper delivery required!

I think when looking at an application such as this, it is a matter of managing expectations. Spoiled as I am by the internet and its many delights, I expect an app to do everything I can imagine; it is often advisable to step away from fantasy and look at what is really achievable and fits my needs rather than my flighty desires. In this case, what is in front of me is a very handy application to read newspapers on the move without the need to lug around huge amounts of bulky paper. Truly I can read the Sunday papers without my lounge festooned by vast piles of destined recycling.

Not only does it save the hassle of physical newspapers but with PressReader there is no need to download several different apps to access your favourite newspapers – no need to clutter my device – Result!

PressReader takes a little getting used to and perhaps the menus and options aren’t as intuitive as I would like but ultimately I can read newspapers from all over the world with just a few taps of a screen and this is very welcome indeed. There is the facility for users to build up a library of newspapers to save copies for later viewing. The library has the option to download newspapers current and in the past once saved and the audio function allows the user to have the news read to them audibly if they have problems with their sight or just prefer to listen to the news.

The option to give stories the thumbs up or thumbs down allows an interactive element to the app. When viewing newspapers in your library there are several great features such as the satisfying swipe that turns the page, ability to skip to specific sections and you can print pages from the app as well as listening to the news and skipping through stories. Your library is fully searchable from the main library page and your favourite newspapers can be viewed and sorted in alphabetical order, most recent etc.

 

If you’re busy and the Top Stories are all you’re after, Press Reader can accommodate this too. Admittedly, it is a little complicated to find and set up the preferences to get the news from sources that you require and at first I was getting top stories from various sources. Once you have your preferences tightly managed, selecting the Top Stories button will seek out the news that is making the headlines and allow you to browse through the major stories of the day. You can choose from a selection of news stories based on Reader’s Choice or Editor’s Picks depending on what you are looking for.

The Search function is a very useful feature; from here you can search for keywords in all newspapers. Want to know the latest news on your favourite TV show? Tap in the title and it will give you results from every newspaper in which the term appears. This is a great function but best to be as specific as possible unless you want to see thousands of posts, much like internet search engines really, applying a little bit of common sense will give you all the results you need. You can tailor the search in all languages and there is a wide range available. There is also the option to search only today’s news, the last 3 days, this week or this month to narrow your search. With the facility to specify where the search term should be located – headline or article – you really do have a great deal of control over the search tool. The ability to search for your favourite author is a nice touch too. With all this, the search algorithm is very thorough and searching for a particular word will often display results for plural or related words – for example – entering the search term of ‘beauty’ also looks for ‘beautiful’ and other related words.

Sadly the settings section is sparse and to be frank, the preferences should perhaps be in this section of the app as the method to getting at them is a little clumsy. When entering a search term in the Search facility, when the keyboard is displayed on the iPod screen, selecting the ‘Search’ or ‘Go’ option beside the keyboard does not actually work so you need to select ‘Done’ then ‘Search’ on the main search screen. There are a few things here and there that should perhaps be changed to make them more user friendly but overall, you can view newspapers all over the world. There are a few notable absences but perhaps they will be added in time.

When it comes to viewing the newspapers, it is a pleasant experience. Holding your finger on the page allows you to see the page in fine detail, focussing on the stories that interest you or just allowing you to take a closer look at a photo. Double tapping headlines brings up a text based version of the page to fit the screen of your device and again focussing on the stories that interest you. The text to audio function is always available and even though it is phonetically reading the text, it doesn’t do too bad a job of it. With a menu of subjects to allow you to travel to your favourite sections of the newspaper, you can be reading the stories that interest you much faster than with a physical print copy. You can also take a look at back copies of newspapers, perfect for those who have just returned from holiday, people who didn’t have time to go out and get a paper or for those annoying moments where the newsagent has sold out of your favourite daily.

I was hoping that I would be able to complete the crossword or Sudoku in some of the papers but this isn’t a feature that is available and as I mentioned before, it is all about my often outlandish expectations. I understand fine well that implementation of something like that would be tricky; it didn’t stop me trying it though. Ultimately the access to newspapers is the top feature of this app and it performs this task very well.

PressReader is available from the iTunes UK store for free. Subscriptions to content range from £23.99 / month to PAYG at around £1.99 for a single newspaper.

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