The Wall Street Journal - bastion of economic, finance and business news - has just released a smartphone version of its Android app, to complement its tablet counterpart. It’s definitely worth downloading if you’re a fan of the newspaper and its journalism. Incidentally, we couldn’t find the tablet app in our Xoom’s Android Market app, even though it’s visible with the Android Market on the web. Certainly a disappointment.
But, back to the smartphone app. On launch, you get to choose the specific region you’d like to focus upon, whether it be the US, Europe, or Asia. This can be changed at any time. Then, you’re invited to view some information on how to navigate the app itself: “Press and hold a section to see subsections,” or “Tap the header menu for photos, videos and quotes.” While this might seem like common sense to many advanced Android users, I thought it was a nice touch for brand new users of smartphones or Android apps.
Once you’re done, the front page of the app offers a handy snapshot of the day’s finance news. The latest stories are there and the various sub-sections visible. At the bottom of the screen is a quick indicator of the latest Dow Jones, NASDAQ and S&P500 prices. It’s cool to be able to see these without having to delve deeper into the app.
Some of the stories have a key symbol next to them. Presumably, these are ‘locked’ stories only for full subscribers, so instead I went for the one of the stories without such a symbol, but before I could even read that I was asked to subscribe now, log-in or register for free to access limited content from WSJ.
Before I can even read a single story I need to sign-up... I’m not sure that’s a very positive or inviting move for first-time app downloaders, but access to the WSJ site and many of its biggest stories has always been on a subscription-basis, so the app is no different. Once again, however, it’d be nice to at least preview some of the content before signing-up. Of course, such an issue will be moot to many who already subscribe or have previously signed-up to read the Wall Street Journal.
Once I had signed-up for free access, available stories were quick to load and I was impressed again by the quality and breadth of the journalism offered by The Wall Street Journal. A small ad is implanted at the bottom of the screen, but it’s not too invasive. All sections were up-to-date with the latest news so you can be sure you’ll be getting the same top-notch coverage that the website offers. Some nice touches include the ability to easily share images from their Photo of the Day section, and video that buffered quickly and played flawlessly.
Further options available include the ability to update the feed frequency, font sizes, the capability to share stories with various social network sites, and even the opportunity to reset the app to its initial state - a welcome addition in case you want to log-in as a different user.
Overall, the Dow Jones Company has done a fine job bringing the features of its big brother tablet app to the smaller smartphone screen. WSJ subscribers will definitely get the most out of this app, but free users can see some quality content too, even if it means going through a tedious sign-up process.