The New York Times has released an official news app for Google Android. At first glance, the app looks like a clone of the newspaper’s iPhone app. Both allow you to sort news by category (World, US, Politics, N, Travel, Magazine, Latest, and so on). And both apps are much faster and easier to navigate on a mobile device than the New York Times web site.
But the Android app has a few features that set it apart from the iPhone version. The first is a “Latest Videos” section, which lets you see the latest videos from the New York Times web site and read a brief description. If you tap on a video, it will open up in the Android media player. The iPhone app doesn’t have a video section. Interestingly though, the iPhone app has a Popular section, which is missing from the Android version.
The New York Times App for Android also makes use of Google’s navigation scheme for Android. For instance, I find it much easier to hit the back button to return to the previous menu in the Android version of the app than to use the button at the top of each page in the iPhone version. On the down side, if you tap the back button one too many times, you might find yourself back at the Android home screen.
For some strange reason, the developers also decided to use a drop-down menu as part of the navigation. Hanging out in the “Latest News” section, and want to check the obituaries? Grab the top of the window and pull down to get a list of all available sections. The confusing thing is the top of the window looks a lot like the Android notification bar… and it’s awfully close to it.
I’ve already found myself accidentally opening the Android notification menu when I meant to pull down the category list in the New York Times app. This UI element also takes up more space than it really needs to — especially since you can bring up the same list by hitting the Menu button on an Android phone and selecting “Sections.” That said, the app is without a doubt the best way to access New York Times content on an Android device.
The New York Times app for Android is available as a free, ad-supported download for Android 2.0 and up. It’s available from the Android Market, or you can scan the barcode to the right to get started.