Monday, June 6, 2011

Bloomberg Businessweek+

The Bloomberg Businessweek+ app is a must-have for print subscribers, mostly because it's free.  If you're already paying for the print edition you can quickly get free iPad app issue access by providing your account number.  If you're not a print subscriber I'm not sure you'll find the $3 per iPad issue much of a bargain.  You're probably better off signing up for a $20/year print subscription with free iPad access instead.

As far as features are concerned, there's nothing unique or special here.  You'll find the print content in digital format without a lot of bells and whistles.  So while the app is simple and effective, it's not pushing the envelope of what's possible in the digital world.  Heck, you can't even download an issue in the background, so don't bother hopping to another app while waiting for this week's issue to appear.

Although you'll also find all the requisite social networking options at your fingertips, can we think bolder?  Let's start with the simple: A dictionary is built in to almost every ebook reading app these days, so why not do the same with a magazine app?  I still come across a word or two every so often I'd like to look up; am I asking too much to be able to do that right within the magazine's app?

One feature I have to give them credit for is the "Related" option in most articles.  There you'll find links and summaries for companies and industries related to the one you're currently reading about.  This is all done with a slider frame, so it's unobtrusive but there if you want to explore.  Nicely done.  But if you're going to offer access to content within the Businessweek empire, why not also let me grab the same type of related links from the Wikipedia or Google News from within the app?  Turn it into a one-stop news portal, not just an gateway to Businessweek content.

It might not look like it, but I'm trying to encourage more functionality and not necessarily complaining about the app itself.  I plan to keep my $20/year print subscription alive but this is one of those few situations where I'll probably read it almost exclusively via the iPad app.  Bloomberg, you've done a decent job up to now, but please keep adding new features to help me broaden my horizons!

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