Poor upgrade: Still no customization, various glitches!
Come on, app developers! Many issues remain with this app.
Here's the major one:
1. Give users back the ability to customize which sections are in the tab bar! ALL of your previous versions permitted that and it makes a HUGE difference in usability and convenience.
2. Discovered another glitch today -- had the app's Dark Mode on for many days, turned it off, and then a pop up took over the app asking me if I wanted to *try* Dark Mode! Pretty ridiculous!
Now, for the full review!
First off, they deliberately broke the earlier, well-designed version of the Washington Post app and stopped it from functioning. It no longer updates the news! Tellingly, though, the old version still updates the advertisements!
Crippling an app breaks faith with long-time users and PAID subscribers. If that isn't against App Store rules, it should be! It's fine to stop an app functioning IF there is a major security flaw-- but that's not what's going on here. The prior version still runs, it just doesn't fetch the news!
Worse, though, the new version of the app has a host of problems, which is why many of us are NOT happy with the upgrade. These issues are serious enough that, unless fixed, the app is no longer worth subscribing to.
Here are the particulars.
---> MISLEADING DESCRIPTION OF UPGRADE
Amazingly, their description on iTunes of the upgrade emphasized that it fixed *minor* bugs. No mention that it overhauled the interface in major ways and, in the worst development, *removed* customization.
---> LIST OF MAJOR PROBLEMS WITH NEW VERSION
1. Could not believe that the recent overhaul deleted ALL of our saved stories! There went users' long-time archives!
2. A bottom toolbar is now always present, which undermines the full screen newspaper reading experience. Even worse, there is now an *extra* bar across the top, above the sections bar. This is a major step backwards. It means that the actual reading area has been reduced by nearly 1/4!
3. The surrounding interface is now jet black, which is drab and off-putting. The black-on-white scheme also makes it unsuitable for reading at night as there is a glaring white background. (Even if one inverts screen colors, the black interface elements would turn glaring white.)
To the app developers' credit, they have added a dark mode. However, the choice of a grey rather than a black background was an error as it makes things harder to read.
---> 4. There is NO access to comments via the app! You have to go to the main website to see them or to comment! That undermines the social media & community aspects of the app. The informed comments of others, though, makes the paper more useful, more enjoyable, AND helps expand one's horizon beyond the articles and columns themselves! <---
5. One of the biggest problems is that they've eliminated the reader's choice of news sections! You are stuck with what they provide--in the order that *they* decided upon.
THAT'S THE KEY FIX NEEDED: Let us choose which sections we want to appear in the sections bar! That's how ALL the previous versions worked!
6. There is a way of getting to recent sections, but it's a poor substitute for pinned favorites. Oddly, it uses a two-column format -- with a *narrow* list of section names on the left side of the screen and a narrow list of headlines on the right.
This is poor, inconsistent design. It's completely different from the way the paper's sections and articles are displayed on the app's home page -- in a tab bar!
It has other problems, too. The recent section list constantly changes, so your oft-viewed or favorite sections keep jumping around! Worse, on the iPad, when you tap a headline, the article appears in that narrow right-hand column, which makes it harder to read. Well, there is a work around. If you remember to tap another icon first, you can make a recent section's headlines -- and articles -- appear in the normal one-column wider view!
If this is confusing and sounds like a kludge, that's because it is!
Letting users set up their own favorite sections on the main tab bar would obviate all of it!
---> OTHER MAJOR PROBLEMS WITH NEW VERSION
Addendum 1: Discovered the other day that it fails to download many stories! Overall, it doesn't work as well as it used to for offline reading. (It used to be superb!). Truly sad!
Addendum 2: It also hangs from time to time, freezing the screen. You end up having to quit the app. No other news app we use does this!
Addendum 3: Discovered that scrolling through a story has become even more herky-jerky than it was before; the screen blinks! In earlier versions, the scrolling was generally smooth, though, it still jumped after a bit. This is the only news app I know of that does this!
Addendum 4: Weird. They seem to have removed the classic app for the *iPhone* entirely from the App Store -- and do not let us reinstall it on the iPad. That one was quite good with pinned sections, customization of favorites, etc.
Please bring back the old interface -- or, at least, give us an option to choose it as a preferred theme! If sticking with this one, at least let us choose which sections appear in the sections bar.
We will NOT be renewing our subscription to the Post if these problems, especially the lack of customization, are not fixed! (Yes, it is that serious of an issue!)
The Post app developers should look closely at the NY Times-- while a slider of sections across the top is best (the way the Post app is) -- the Times developers nailed everything else, including offline reading and smooth scrolling.
Conclusion: A miserable upgrade that removed customization, combined with the dirty trick of blocking the earlier version from working! Crossing our fingers that the next real upgrade will fix these issues!