Apps for Higher Ed Newsies: Inside Higher Ed Reviewed
Mobile apps are a great way to access your favorite newspapers on the go. One education trade publication, ''Inside Higher Ed'', debuted an iPhone app recently. We put it to the test in this review.
What Is It?
Inside Higher Ed (IHE) is a higher education trade publication that covers education news and issues in the United States. The publication is online-only, with no print edition. There are a variety of resources on the Inside Higher Ed website, from reporting on current events to op-ed columns, blogs to career advice and job postings. Overall, it's a great resource for anyone looking to gain insight and information regarding higher education.
The app is a scaled-down version of what you can find on the main site. There are versions for both iPhone and Android. For this review, we used the iPhone app, which appears to have similar features to the Android version, based on screenshots from the Android Market (see picture above).
The iPhone version features the site's most recent content under the 'Today' button. Other menu buttons include 'Views,' for op-ed content, 'Blogs' for featured IHE blogs like Digital Tweed and 'Careers' for job postings. In this view, there's a small ad bar, usually with an ad for IHE, between the menu buttons and the article listings. The ad is well-incorporated and doesn't really detract from the user experience.
Overall, it's a pretty straightforward application with a minimalistic, easy-to-use interface... until you click into an article, that is. At that point, the app just plugs in to the Web browser version of the article. It's difficult to use, and turning the phone to landscape mode doesn't really help, unless you zoom in (see picture below). There's a button offering the option to read in Safari, making the app itself seem a bit redundant.
Who Will Get the Most Use Out of It?
There isn't much here for people who aren't dedicated readers of IHE. If you like to browse the site every once in a while, you can do so from your computer and have a better experience. Still, since it's free, higher education professionals might want to install it just in case an unexpected airport delay or some other situation requiring emergency reading material arises.
Higher education job seekers might be the most logical users of this app, though again, there's not a good enough design to the app to really make it a better than or equal experience to using the IHE website on a computer. Still, it's a handy resource to have, and the app's menu design does make the headlines more easily scannable than they would be using your phone's Web browser.
Summary: Pros and Cons
- It's free.
- It makes navigating through the site's most recent headlines, blogs and job postings easier than it would be on your phone's Web browser.
- The menu designs are good, making it easy to scan through the site's content.
- Once you've clicked on a headline, actually reading the article is difficult.
- The experience of reading articles isn't much different than using your phone's browser.
If you're into the student-produced kind of education publication, there are some great college newspaper mobile apps out there that make for good phone reading.