Australian’s iPad app races onto iTunes chart but the high frequency ads annoy users

EAustralian_ipad_app_itunes_ratings Mumbrellaarly user reviews of The Australian’s highly anticipated iPad app have been lukewarm, with iTunes users so far rating the $4.99 per month application an average of three stars out of five.

The most common criticism from those who have invested in the app so far is that the full page ads – served between every article – are too intrusive. Others have complained that the application does not contain the same range of content that the newspaper does.

However, despite the negative comments, at the time of writing The Australian’s iPad app, which launched on Friday, is number one in the news section of iTunes Australia’s paid iPad apps chart.  

Comments ranged from “I feel ripped off and want to know where I can get a refund” to “a good range of material, intuitively presented, at a reasonable price”.

The app has been heavily promoted by The Australian, as part of News Ltd’s strategy to persuade readers to pay to access its digital content.

The Australian has also made no secret that advertising is a major part of its iPad strategy, using high profile placements to bring in four launch partners – CommBank, IBM, Optus and Emirates.

At the time of posting, no spokesman for The Australian was available for comment. However, when the newspaper’s iPad app was announced, editor-in-chief Chris Mitchell said the product would evolve based on reader feedback:

“Over the coming weeks we will be adding numerous features and more content to the app. We will actively engage with our readers, seeking their feedback on the app, helping us develop future versions.”


The Australian's iPad app

At the time of writing, these are the user reviews on iTunes voted “most helpful”, in descending order:

Not a great iPad app:

I have been waiting for this app and loaded it today. Unfortunately more disappointment than I had expected. Frequent pop-up ads that I cannot seem to turn off and the front pages cannot be zoomed or moved. If you view the front pages it has to be in portrait view as in landscape you miss the bottom and you cannot pull the page down. pages are difficult to find with pull down menus rather than tab page flip. Overall quite poor. Stay with web pages and save the $5 monthly fee.

What a pathetic joke! Stay well clear

This is nothing short of a scandalous money grabbing attempt by the Australian’s editorial team to pretend to their board that are with the times! It is littered with intrusive advertising, have VERY limited content compared to even their straight web version – never mind the paper version. For instance, while browsing the Business section, no subheadings are available – nor are the content of say the Aviation or Legal Affairs in today’s Friday version. I feel ripped off and want to know where I can get a refund.

Not even a pass grade as a 1st attempt

A lot of positive comments about this application must have come from people that have only just bought the iPad and haven’t seen how a properly designed online newspaper for the iPad could (and has) be/ been.

You only have to look at the USA Today, WSJ, Times to see how a newspaper should be translated onto the iPad.

UI aside, the biggest gripe is the lack of content. Why are we paying for a crippled version of the news that you get in the paper edition?


No Op-Ed, letters or opinion section – which is the 1st bit of the paper I turn to. Not well organized. No zooming. Needs a lot more work before it can replace the paper version.


Nice layout but unfortunately the pop up ads make the whole experience poor.

Intrusive ads!

Was really looking forward to this app but unfortunately it’s littered with popup ads.

trying to read one article resulted in three full screen ads!!!

Not good enough.

Life not rite

If newspapers are a rough first draft of history then first newspaper iPad apps seem to be rougher still. Much less content than the website, no charm of the paper, erratic and suprisingly intrusive ads, quite a few bugs. I will come back in a few months to see the next version as this one surely won’t cut it.

The Australian iPad app

Well i have to say that I am very impressed, I have had my iPad now for about 6 weeks (got it from USA) and I have been waiting for this app.

It works great easy to use and very easy to navigate around.

Well done to the Australian developers.

Much better than these reviews are intimating

This app is a well-designed and well thought out approach to written news in the iPad. The hierarchy is right, the content is fresh, and the price (as compared to the print edition) is right. I’m sold.

It’s $5 a month. Give it a try and if you don’t like it, go back to the print edition in a week and you’ve still saved money.

Great app

Frankly I don’t know why the naysayers are pushing on this app. Okay, so you don’t get everything that’s in the print edition, but I for one don’t have time to read the whole paper anyway. There’s a good range of material, intuitively presented, at a reasonable price (particularly when compared to that same paper version). News like this is just one reason I bought an iPad and for me this app is definitely worth $4.99 a month!

Not worth the money.. yet

Great idea but doesn’t really offer anything more than the website does for free so until they come up with greater ways to make it stand out from the website, I’ll find it hard to justify renewing the membership for $5 every month.

A long list of problems mean this app is not (yet) worth $4.99 a month

I am happy to pay $5 a month to get quality journalism. However this app is a disappointment on many fronts – it was clearly rushed to market to be the first to ensure people with their new iPads bought it.

Here’s the long list of problems:

First, the ads. I understand the commercial need for ads, but this app hasn’t got them right. The ads are too frequent. They are very repetitive. They are pop-overs not integrated with the stories (unlike a newspaper); that makes them annoying. Worst of all, you have to click the close box (or swipe across them) in the top right of the screen; it would make more sense if the app allowed you to click anywhere.

I was expecting to see all the content I would read in the newspaper. But there’s no magazines. Where’s the Arts and Entertainment articles? Where’s the letters to the editor? You can read more of the content on the web, even from your iPad. And it is currently (but not for long) free.

The app has major graphical glitches. Both in landscape and portrait, there is content off the bottom of the screen, but it doesn’t always allow you to swipe to control to see it. There are also weird interface issues: sometimes there are story in scrolling bars on the right. But when you are in certain stories there is a pop-up scrolling lists of articles on the left.

The app loads all the content when you launch it. That makes it quite slow. it would be better if it launched the first pager and then (in the background) launched the rest of the sections. Or perhaps you could customise it with the sections you want. Say, if you are not interested in “Sport” turn it off to make it faster (and cheaper) to load. When you click “State Politics” you may just want to see the news from your state.

So unless I seem some improvements, I don’t think I’ll renew it for the second month. Apps like these will not save the newspaper. 🙁

The Australian

Come on you Aussie whingers moaning about this application. It’s only been out a day and it’s bound to improve. For environmental reasons alone it’s worth supporting an application like this.

Needs work

Font is very small and hard to read, can’t zoom at all which leads to eyestrain. Ads are obtrusive, grainy and don;t seem to fit into the app very well. They seem to be something of an afterthought. This app has potential but needs a LOT of work and is nothing more than a novelty and won’t be renewing.

A good start

The UI can be a bit fiddly to navigate, and there needs to be more content (eg op-ed, feature sections) but this is a good first effort and a good reading experience.

There are full page ads between articles, but you can quickly swipe past them if you want. It’s onl;y $5/ month so I can live with some advertising.

Great start – keep improving

Great start for the first dedicated Australian news site on the iPad. Make some quick improvements and you will be setting a new direction in the way we get and process our news and ultimately help the planet at the same time.

Not bad!

This isn’t bad for a beginning. No doubt the content and cost will rise as the team hit their stride.

I’d love the chance to be able to augment a subscription with supplements of choice. Higher education etc. I hope The Australian will consider this.

Poor effort

Would have expected an all out effort to impress on this first edition, considering the billions News Corp has, and with Rupert wanting to get us to pay for his tripe.

Meanwhile, Fairfax’s Sport & Style magazine – which is inserted with The Age and Sydney Morning Herald – has uploaded a video if its iPad app in action:


Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella newsletter now.



Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing.