In late March, Jason Hiner announced the release of native TechRepublic apps for the iPhone and for Android-based devices. I installed the iPhone version of the app right away and started to use it. Overall, I've found the TechRepublic iPhone app to be very useful -- in fact, I use it almost every day. That said, I do find myself switching over to Safari on my phone so that I can get the full view of what I want from the content. In this App of the Week post, I provide an overview of what I like about the TechRepublic iPhone app and discuss two areas that I hope are on the development roadmap. (You can download the free TechRepublic iPhone app from the iTunes App Store. The app requires iOS 3.0 or later.)
What I likeClean layout: The TechRepublic iPhone app's layout has an elegant simplicity (Figure A). There are five tabs across the bottom of the display that point readers to primary content areas. Want the latest blog postings? Click Latest. Want to see what other readers really like? Click Popular. If you are interested in a specific content area, tap the Blogs icon to get a list of the blogs and then make your selection (Figure B). The posts are easy to read -- even the posts I've read that include diagrams. Figure A
The TechRepublic iPhone app has a clean layout.Figure B
Choose which blog you want to read.Full screen view: At the risk of contradicting everything I just said, the other feature I really like is that the full screen view mode gets rid of the toolbars and the ads and shows you the meat -- the blog post. (An aside about ads: I found the ads in the app unobtrusive and, frankly, appropriate.) You can switch to full screen mode (Figure C) by tapping anywhere on a content page. Figure C
Full screen view makes reading easy.
What I don't likeCommunity features are missing: We all know that TechRepublic is a unique, community-driven resource; unfortunately, that element of community is missing from this version of the app. There is currently no way to comment on a TechRepublic blog or read the discussion thread that already exists for a post. Sometimes I find the comments to be even more thought provoking than the blog post, so I consider this functionality to be critical. Cannot vote or view votes: I'd love to have the ability from within the app to give a blog post a thumbs up vote. I also miss being able to see the votes for each blog post; I like being able to gauge how other TechRepublic community members feel about a post.
More wish list items
There are two more things that I hope are on the development roadmap for the TechRepublic apps. I am disappointed there is not a tablet (especially iPad) version of the app yet. The iPhone version works fine, but with so much additional screen real estate on a tablet, the app could be incredibly powerful on this form factor. In addition, although Windows Phone 7 is just in its first version, an extension of the app to this platform is something I hope to see in the future. Based on some of the comments to Jason Hiner's post announcing the iPhone and Android apps, I'm not the only TechRepublic member who has expressed this wish.
The TechRepublic iPhone app is a great first version and adds yet another avenue for accessing the site's blog posts.
If you have downloaded the TechRepublic iPhone app, what do you think of it? Please share your feedback in the discussion.
Since 1994, Scott Lowe has been providing technology solutions to a variety of organizations. After spending 10 years in multiple CIO roles, Scott is now an independent consultant, blogger, author, owner of The 1610 Group, and a Senior IT Executive with CampusWorks, Inc. Scott is available for consulting, writing, and speaking engagements and can be reached at email@example.com.