Portable tablets such as the Apple iPad, Motorola Xoom, HP TouchPad and others are some of the most cutting edge products today. As consumers purchase more and more of these products, they are looking for media apps which they can use to enjoy viewing photos and videos, as well as reading content from respected print publications.
Some of the developments in media apps for tablets in recent years have included the replication and expansion of physical products already in existence. For instance, Meredith and CondÃ© Nast have experimented with creating digital copies of their magazines, complete to the last page, but also including some special features only available in the digital edition. Another tactic taken by broadcasters, including ABC, is to build apps which accompany some of their broadcasts, like the Oscar Backstage Pass app, developed to accompany the Oscar Awards program. Other companies, like Bloomberg, have chosen to create stand alone apps which neither replace nor directly complement any pre-existing content.
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Even though tablet apps are a relatively new field of innovation, with the help of Forester, we’ve managed to determine some of the best practices based on the media apps which are already successful. Here are nine tips for tablet media app development:
- Keep Your App Simple. Design your app to do one main purpose and do it really well. Simple apps like “The Cut” designed by New York Magazine are very successful.
- Traditional monetization tactics aren’t always best for tablet media apps. At this point, the traditional ad model is too new to support premium content, and one-time paid downloads only garner a small audience. That means companies will need to innovate to come up with alternatives.
- E-commerce is a great source of revenue. One excellent example of tablet app e-commerce is an application developed by Net-A-Porter Magazine which enables a user to purchase any item they see through the app or add it to their wish list.
- Feed a sense of accomplishment. If you reward users for spending time on your app by allowing them to unlock new areas of your app and experience new functionality, they will feel gratified and spend more time with your app.
- Use apps to complement other media where applicable. ABC for instance built an app for Grey’s Anatomy which would listen through the iPad’s microphone and adjust the content it displayed along with the progress of the show the user was watching on TV.
- Take advantage of social sharing. Apps like The Pulse news reader app designed for iPad allow users to enjoy each other’s feeds.
- Decide whether to stream or embed video based on circumstance. Streaming is best if you know your user will have internet access while using your app since it saves download time and bandwidth. On the other hand, if your app will be used in a place without internet access, then you should embed the video. An example would be a fitness app designed with embedded video so that users could view the videos in the gym where there is no internet access.
- Use as much of the large screen of a tablet as possible. For instance, the MLB At Bat iPad app takes up the full screen of the iPad so that it can include more information than it does on its equivalent app for the iPhone, which has a smaller screen.
- Implement unique navigational controls. Popular Science magazine allows the user to open up different menus with two fingers instead of one. Programs like this are most likely to be promoted by the Apple App Store or other the app store of another tablet seller.
In conclusion, right now the tablet app market is all about innovation. Innovate in terms of navigation, revenue, social media, synchronization, and more, and you will unlock the door to tablet app success.