Skip to main content

About the Philadelphia Inquirer's augmented reality app

I missed the debut of the Philadelphia Inquirer's "augmented reality" app over the weekend—you point your mobile device at the newspaper, and the device starts playing a video linked to that particular story in the newspaper—but the Daily News' Janathan Takiff says it's getting an "undeservedly bad rap." But it sure doesn't sound like it. Listen to Takiff's explanation:
The naysayers clearly didn't read the instructions (spelled out in the Inky yesterday but not in the app) about how the Aurasma AR technology works in practice. This ain't rocket science. Once you've installed the free Inquirer AR app on your camera-equipped iPhone or iPad, you look for a photo or advertisement in the paper that has a little gothic "I" symbol in the corner. You then point your Apple device's camera lens at the same image. A few seconds later a companion video starts playing on the Apple screen and speakers. Here comes the HARD part. You have to TAP TWICE on the screen, AFTER the video starts to play, so you can then move your iPhone or iPad away from the page and continue to watch the mini-production. If you DON'T tap twice, the video stops as soon as you move the device's lens away from the coded image. Oh, and to then get the video to stop running, you DOUBLE TAP on the screen again. There's also the option with some of the triggered mini-videos/commercials to then jump to a connected website - like the busy home page of the National Constitution Center. To perform this feat, tap just ONCE on the website bar in the corner of the video. Tap twice and the magic trick doesn't work.
Oh sure, that's easy then.

 I'm dubious about a mobile app whose main purpose is to get you to read the newspaper. But I'm even more dubious of an app that's complicated and doesn't come with in-app instructions of how it should be used. That's unlikely to bring mobile users to the newspaper, but it might bring newspaper readers to their mobile devices. Is that what the Inky was aiming for?

 As it happens, there are three reviews of the app at iTunes. Two of the reviews are one star. The third is five stars—posted by "ScribeJT." I'm guessing that's Takiff himself (a writer with the initials "JT"?)which seems a little cheesy—since this app he's reviewing was created by his employer.

As I've said before, the Inquirer needs to keep experimenting. Experiments are often going to end in failure. And the idea here is kind of cool. But if the audience is giving you a bad rap, Takiff, it's most likely deserved. Telling them they're wrong probably won't fix your problems.

Comments

Y said…
Sounds like the paper got taken in by "OoOooo, shiny shiny" and spent gobs of money it didn't have on an app when QR- or barcodes and a 1-sentence explanation could have sufficed.

Popular posts from this blog

Yoga

I've been making some life changes lately — trying to use the time I have, now that I'm back in Kansas, to improve my health and lifestyle. Among the changes: More exercise. 30 minutes a day on the treadmill. Doesn't sound like a lot, but some is more than none, and I know from experience that getting overambitious early leads to failure. So. Thirty minutes a day.

One other thing: Yoga, a couple of times a week. It's nothing huge — a 15-minute flexibility routine downloaded from an iPhone app. But I've noticed that I'm increasingly limber.

Tonight, friends, I noticed a piece of trash on the floor. I bent over at the waist and picked it up, and threw it away.

Then I wept. I literally could not remember the last time I'd tried to pick something off the floor without grunting and bracing myself. I just did it.

Small victories, people. Small victories.

Liberals: We're overthinking this. Hillary didn't lose. This is what it should mean.

Interesting:
Nate Cohn of the New York Times estimates that when every vote is tallied, some 63.4 million Americans will have voted for Clinton and 61.2 million for Trump. That means Clinton will have turned out more supporters than any presidential candidate in history except for Obama in 2008 and 2012. And as David Wasserman of Cook Political Report notes, the total vote count—including third party votes—has already crossed 127 million, and will “easily beat” the 129 million total from 2012. The idea that voters stayed home in 2016 because they hated Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton is a myth. We already know the Electoral College can produce undemocratic results, but what we don't know is why — aside from how it serves entrenched interests — it benefits the American people to have their preference for national executive overturned because of archaic rules designed, in part, to protect the institution of slavery. 

A form of choosing the national leader that — as has happened in …

I'm not cutting off my pro-Trump friends

Here and there on Facebook, I've seen a few of my friends declare they no longer wish the friendship of Trump supporters — and vowing to cut them out of their social media lives entirely.

I'm not going to do that.

To cut ourselves off from people who have made what we think was a grievous error in their vote is to give up on persuading them, to give up on understanding why they voted, to give up on understanding them in any but the most cartoonish stereotypes.

As a matter of idealism, cutting off your pro-Trump friends is to give up on democracy. As a matter of tactics, cutting off your pro-Trump friends is to give up on ever again winning in a democratic process.

And as a long-term issues, confining ourselves to echo chambers is part of our national problem.

Don't get me wrong: I expect a Trumpian presidency is a disaster, particularly for people of color. And in total honesty: My own relationships have been tested by this campaign season. There's probably some damage…