Jo Swan casts a critical eye over the newly-overhauled Metro app.

One of the UK’s most circulated newspapers, The Metro, have recently undertaken an app upgrade to support its morning and evening editions. How does the new app measure up, and does the translation from print to digital work in its enhanced format?

Does less, mean more?

The app itself is presented clearly and is not overpowering to the eye. The Metro print newspaper provides several news stories to a page and this can lead to an information overload for the readers. On the app, the stories of the day from the ‘cover’ page have their own digital page dedicated to the story that makes the reading experience easier.

The lack of animations and interactivity within the articles was disappointing. The articles were accompanied by images, but there was a shortage of videos and data illustrations, which made the stories lack engagement and vibrancy. To add to the disappointment, the videos that were featured in the app had technical issues on my device. The media took longer than usual to load, and also there were audio issues when the video was playing.

The simplicity design is one of the highlights of the app, especially for users who are not confident using digital devices. The sidebar is available on every page you flick through on the publication. This also features all the different categories within the publication, including favourites from The Metro newspaper such as ‘Guilty Pleasures’ and ‘Rush-hour crush.’

Digital vs print

The instant recognition of The Metro’s colour schemes in the app maintains the continuity from the print publication. The main royal blue colour is dominant throughout the app and the section colours are apparent in their pages. With a simple swipe on the app you can flick to the section you wish, without having to turn several pages on a crowded train (which can be risky).

If that wasn’t enough, there is a search icon that can be easily found within the drop-down menu in the top right-hand corner. Readers can search to their hearts content within the newspaper, to find stories and sections featuring chosen key words, which will then be highlighted within the publication to find at ease.

What newspaper isn’t complete without a puzzle? The Metro app includes an impressive puzzle section to help you unwind on the commute, to and from work. The Metro app includes classic puzzles such as wordsearch, crossword and three sudokus to play, but also the digital app has included splitwords, hangman and a jigsaw to bring out the gamer in you. All puzzles have a timer, an in-house keyboard and an information section that can reveal clues, plus, solve the entire puzzle within seconds, all which are very easy to access and use.

Size really does matter

As I was using the app from my mobile phone I had concerns that the app would not be as compatible on my device compared to a tablet, due to the smaller screen on my device. The default text size is a little demanding on the eyes, but the app allows the reader to change the font size if they wish.

There are three choices of size, (including the default one) which can be accessed on all pages in the top right-hand corner, within the drop menu. The layout will then change depending on the selected text size. Some text will be hidden as the font size increases, especially on the ‘cover’ page, which makes the layout look strange.

As The Metro’s content is originally for a print newspaper, I would suggest using a bigger device to optimise articles’ features when viewing, to replicate holding a newspaper.

Maximise Metro

Although the app has recently been updated in July, I believe there is still a gap in the app, which needs to be addressed. The interactivity within the app needs to be improved with more multi-media within the stories, highlighting on data animations instead of text, to explain numerical statistics.

It would be brilliant to include social media links for the journalists and also the interviewees, such as celebrities, within the articles to increase reader’s engagement, as well as links to The Metro’s website. The app includes a link to contact the newspaper, but it is featured in the last category in the sidebar, which has a high risk of not being found by users.

The transition from the print publication to the mobile app has been very sleek, with hardly any changes from the original publication, which I believe is very beneficial for the app and The Metro brand. It is not the most glossy and impressive news application out there, but it is certainly easy to navigate with its clear and simple layout that appeals to all ages.

Design:
★★★★☆

Navigation:
★★★★☆

Content:
★★★★☆

Compatibility:
★★★☆☆

‘Wow’ factor:
★★★☆☆

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