Tag Archives: iTunes

Drudge Report app flap continues, ads a new problem

The latest version of The Drudge Report app retains its signature feature - incredibly small font sizes.

The latest version of The Drudge Report app retains its signature feature – incredibly small font sizes.

About a year ago I reported on the Drudge Report’s troubles with its app, which garnered universally negative reviews from users. One of the main gripes was the incredibly small font size used to display the daily headlines, linking readers to stories from every corner of the web.

Today I checked in with the App Store to see if any changes had been made, and the developer notes that “general maintenance” was performed and a new version released on September 4th.

Unfortunately, the app still suffers from minuscule font sizing and will be useful only to the ocularly gifted.

The latest version continues to earn poor ratings from users in the iTunes store, who note the font

An ad in the app sends users to the Candy Crush game in the App Store

An ad in the app sends users to the Candy Crush game in the App Store

trouble but also cite a new problem: full page pop-up ads frequently accost readers, often redirecting them to buy games in the App Store. At the moment, the updated app averages a paltry one star rating from more than 100 reviews.

I downloaded the app (using an iPhone 5s) and can confirm these problems. It also seems to be a bit slow in loading and navigating, although without testing it on different networks, I can’t confirm with certainty that the issue is caused by the app and not by a slow wi-fi connection or some other local network issue.

It remains a mystery why a new media pioneer like Matt Drudge would be plagued by these types of ongoing technology problems.

For iPhone users, the site is best viewed with a browser at www.idrudgereport.com.

For iPhone users, the site is best viewed with a browser at http://www.idrudgereport.com.

For now, a better option for reading The Drudge Report, at least for iPhone users, is to visit http://www.idrudgereport.com using Safari, and bookmark the page.The fonts are still small but basically readable, and there are no pop-up ads. 

 

 

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Drudge silent on app flap

It’s been five days since the latest Drudge Report app was released, and fallout continues to collect in the form of disaffected fans who say the update fails to deliver even a readable version of the website. As of tonight, 286 users have slammed The Drudge Report – Version 5.0.2 in the iTunes store, nearly all of them rating the app only one out of five stars.

So far, there are no new updates on offer after 5.0.2.

The Drudge Report mobile app has been plagued by problems and poor user reviews.

The Drudge Report app has been plagued by problems and poor user reviews.

I emailed the Drudge Report several days ago with several questions, and have not yet heard back from anyone. Granted, it was a public email, so Drudge and the team no doubt field a large volume of messages. However, I have sent another message tonight in hopes that my questions will be seen and responded to by Matt Drudge or an associate.

One thing I believe Drudge could do is simply to draw more attention to his mobile version website. Currently, if an iPhone user visits http://www.drudgereport.com using the Safari browser, the user is not automatically redirected to a mobile version of the page at http://www.idrudgereport.com. There’s a tremendous difference between the pinching and scrolling required required to read headlines on the desktop version of the site with a smartphone, and using the relatively smooth, user-friendly mobile version. In fact, right now, idrudgerport.com is vastly superior to 5.0.2.

Major news sites typically use what web developers call “responsive web design,” allowing users to access access the site from various devices (desktop, tablet, smartphone) with equal clarity and ease. A simpler technique is to build a stand alone companion site for mobile users and automatically redirect readers there. A third, even more basic way to go is to build a companion site or even a site within a site, and let users click a button on the desktop homepage to let users go to the mobile version if they desire (no automatic rerouting required).

The Drudge Report doesn’t utilize the first strategy (a responsive site), but should be able to incorporate the second or third strategy without a terrible amount of effort and expense. Unless and until Drudge puts out a good mobile app, smoothly escorting phone and tablet readers to a mobile-optimized experience is the only decent thing to do.

 

 

 

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Drudge doubles down on dismal app

Version 5.0.1 of the Drudge Report app was released October 9, 2014.

Version 5.0.1 of the Drudge Report app was released October 9, 2014. It was widely criticized for its small font.

New media icon Matt Drudge has resisted the pleadings of hundreds of loyal readers, and re-released The Drudge Report app without substantially changing the layout of the ill-received version released only nine days earlier. Version 5.0.2 was released in the iTunes store this past Thursday, October 18 and marks the third update this month to the mobile app for one of the most popular online destinations for news and politics.

More than two hundred users have reviewed the update in the iTunes stores, collectively giving this version of the app the lowest possible one star rating. Several days before the latest release, nearly six hundred reviewers had already given the prior version, 5.0.1, a lowly one star. In the Google play store, the newest version debuted today and nine reviews have been been published. Google doesn’t break down the reviews by release version of the app, but if you do the math, the new release scores a 2.8. Higher than the iOS edition, but still quite lacking overall.

What is shocking is that Drudge payed no attention to the major criticisms of Version 5.0.1, which was that it was essentially no different than opening up http://www.drudgereport.com in the Safari browser on iPhone. The font size was so small that it required lots of zooming and pinching, and there were no usable features. This new version incorporates no new features and does nothing to make the page more readable – the font is still tiny and not suitable for reading on a smart phone.

Version 5.0.2 of the Drudge Report was released October 20, 2014. The update contains no major changes from the previous version.

Version 5.0.2 of the Drudge Report was released October 20. The update contains no major changes from prior version.

Strangely, developer Siren Tech LLC declares in the publishing details that “this app is optimized for iPhone 5,” a statement which is patently and demonstrably false. The update summary flatly asserts that the new version has been released for “bug fixes.” Siren Tech’s moniker (connoting a direct connection to the Drudge Report, which uses a siren to signal breaking news) and its inexperience (no other published apps to its credit) raise the question of whether somebody very close to the Drudge Report – perhaps Matt Drudge himself – has developed this app.

The disarray and apparent lack of a clear, mobile strategy stands in stark contrast to the well-earned status Drudge enjoys as a digital media pioneer. While mobile app users make up a small percentage of overall readers, they represent a loyal audience base and most likely account for a disproportionate amount of visits. It’s incomprehensible as to how and why The Drudge Report would not have a usable mobile app in 2014.

I have reached out to Matt Drudge seeking comment and will publish an update should he respond to shed light on this situation.

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Drudge Report iPhone app bombs

The Drudge Report's iconic breaking news siren. This week, fans of the site have declared its mobile app a complete failure.

The Drudge Report’s iconic breaking news siren. This week, fans declared the site’s mobile app a complete failure.

The Drudge Report is one of the web’s most popular sites, and a key force in shaping the daily news cycle – a role it has occupied since it broke the Monica Lewinsky scandal in 1998. QuantCast ranks www.DrudgeReport.com at #158 for U.S. websites, while online analytics firm Alexa declares it to be the 100th most popular site in the country as measured by a combination of unique visitors and page views – just a few spots below the BBC but ahead of Major League Baseball and real estate listing giant Trulia. By all accounts, the enigmatic Matt Drudge is a smashing success.

So why is the Drudge Report app such an absolute failure, according to its own users?

What happened?
“Everyone here loves Drudge, but until you can fix this app, Ill just be using it in Safari….”

5.0 is better but still bad
“These app developers should be fired… At this point I have to wonder who is actually approving these updates and how did they get this job….”

I’ve been a loyal Drudge reader for years. Indeed, as one of the “10% Addicts” who account for “70% of Visits” (according to QuantCast), I’ve scanned nearly every site headline, nearly every day, for much of my adult life. So while Drudge has his share of detractors for everything from his tabloid instincts to his right of center, libertarian leanings, I’ve got no beef with the man. While he’s not the only news source I go to, he is certainly one of my “go to” sources when I want to know what’s happening in the world on any given day.

The other day, while perusing the App Store on my iPhone 5s, I noticed that a few of my apps needed updating, including the Drudge Report. After I updated, I opened up the app, and…. was totally bummed. Something was not right, and I wondered if maybe my download had a glitch and I needed to restart the app, which I tried to no effect.

Useless
“Matt, you seriously need to boot these developers and keep giving your audience what you have for years – an easy to read glance at pertinent headlines. A .5 font size in three columns is going to lose you the audience you’ve worked so hard to gain.”

I really don’t understand…
“Now it’s all hopelessly tiny script you have to pinch to zoom in on. Seriously?!?”

Basically, everything is tiny. Like really, really tiny. So small you might as well be reading the lowest line in the eye chart machine that you think you can see but you’re really not sure about every other character (is that an E or a 3?). In fact, there’s no discernible difference between opening up the app to get the headlines and opening up the website itself in Safari on iPhone (which, in and of itself, does not seem to be mobile-optimized, which is another, completely baffling story to me).

I took a look at the ratings and reviews for the app in iTunes. Turns out everybody was scratching their heads just like I was, and sounding off with their feedback on the new version 5.0.1. With 567 ratings as of this writing, the app had only 1 star out of 5 – the worst possible rating for an app.

Thanks for Web Page in an App
“This app is now useless. It looks just like the web page, except the web version is better because you can at least share links and use the reader function….”

Return– still horrible
“I’ll be using my brewer instead I guess. I don’t understand how Matt Drudge can be letting this nonsense occur.”

Two constant themes ran through the criticism: that developers seemed to be responding in a petulant, childish manner to earlier criticisms of the most recent previous version (it had a few bells and whistles that didn’t quite work out that well for some users, and in the new version they have been stripped away to present a highly minimalist package for the app); and that the three-column website layout has not been adapted for the small screen, leaving the font so tiny as to be illegible. The only high rating I saw (other than one who gave five stars simply to stand out and to “give hope” to Matt, before trashing the actual app) was somebody reviewing the app as used on an iPad.

DrudgeReport.com as viewed on an iPhone 5s on October 14, 2014.

DrudgeReport.com as viewed on an iPhone 5s on October 14, 2014.

The app developer, Siren Tech, LLC has no other apps published in the iTunes store, and only one app (this one) in the Google play store, where every review since the new version was unveiled also earns the lowest possible rating of one star. Version 5.0.1 was released on October 9, only a week after Version 4.0 was launched. The latest iteration is touted as “The pure Drudge Report experience,” in reference to its streamlined approach that is light on features. Overall, the app earns three stars in the iTunes store, factoring in ratings for earlier versions.

Information about Siren Tech is hard to come by. The “developer website” link in iTunes takes you straight to the Drudge Report, and no home page comes up in a Google search. However, information about the company does appear on the Nevada Secretary of State‘s website, which records Siren Tech LLC as a domestic limited liability entity registered in that state as of May of 2011. Its registered agent is the Laughlin Associates out of Reno, a company that assists and represents business owners forming a business entity.

The Drudge Report, as viewed in the mobile app on an iPhone 5s, on October 14, 2014.

The Drudge Report, as viewed in the mobile app on an iPhone 5s, on October 14, 2014.

A managing member is also listed, however: Richard Moon of Valencia, California. His address listed with the Secretary of State’s office is also the address of a California firm, TC Financial, which provides services ranging from investment planning, tax preparation and estate conversion. Nothing on app development, per se. 

If you’re a regular to Drudge, you recognize the siren atop the page that signals a major, breaking news story. That, and the fact that there is no other trace of Siren Tech LLC doing any other development work, leads me to wonder if Matt Drudge built his own app, or at a minimum, if a non-professional developer (i.e. a friend, etc) built the app for him.

Mobile app users account for a small but portion of Drudge Report traffic according to the folks at Alexa (about 5% in a recent week, for example), but most likely represent a base of “power users” for the site, and in theory should be on the rise as apps continue to become more prevalent generally. However, the recent rollout of this app and the utter fiasco that it has become makes one thing clear: Matt Drudge needs a new app, and a new developer, before this mobile mishap causes too many readers to turn the page on a site that helped usher in the new media age as we know it.

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