Guardian Anywhere Review
The Guardian is one of the UK’s premier newspapers when it comes to covering all aspects of the news. Developer James Hugman and Future Platforms have teamed up together to help bring such content to the Android masses and has released an application called “Guardian Anywhere”.
The concept is simple, to deliver you all of the Guardian’s content to you on your handset, whenever you want, where ever you are. What differs though from other applications is that instead of needing a constant connection to the internet via WiFi or 3G, Guardian Anywhere downloads the whole content first before presenting it.
This concept has pro’s and con’s as the content offered by the Guardian is vast and requires a long time to load completely, something that the application even tells you in its disclaimer. Even via WiFi content can take a considerable amount of time to download to your handset as for example it took 10+ minutes before all the content was loaded during reviewing.
Interface & Userability
Once it was loaded the interface is clean yet uninspiring as it just feels that its lacking polish throughout. Straight away you can see the large volume of content which is available as well from the Guardian and everything is listed in a presentable manner with distinguished categories.
Images within the content itself are quite large and of high quality making it perfect if you were to use them as a wallpaper. However, I would have liked to see a lower resolution image in place instead to save on storage and bandwidth use as this would save time on downloading the content immensely. If one wanted to use the image as a wallpaper then an option to click-hold on the image which prompts a download of a higher resolution image would suffice instead.
Browsing around the vast amount of content is easy enough as is subscribing to content to suit your needs. On the main screen just go to All Stories and then press the Menu button and then Manage Tags. This will bring up the feed list where you can simply tick or untick content relevant to you.
One of the features available though to make the downloading pain a bit more bearable is the ability to subscribe to parts of the Guardian that you actually want to read so subsequential use of the application becomes faster. Also you can even schedule when the application begins to download the content, so setting it to download in the morning whilst your mobile is still on charge and before you wake up is a good idea. However I do not know when the content itself gets updated in the morning, so setting it too early could infact just load up old news.
Guardian Anywhere displays images picked by the newspaper itself with good quality and you can even save it to your mobile or set it as a wallpaper which is a neat feature. The ability to select items to put into a “Saved Articles” folder for later viewing is a good idea as is being able to search content via tags.
Being a new application it hold much promise and the ability to pre-load content before viewing can help in areas with low or no signal. Even if content has yet to be loaded, it can be done on demand instead which is something most Android users are used to. With WiFi enabled it took well over 10 minutes for me to load the content into Guardian Anywhere which makes me question if the content is optimised enough yet for mobile use, especially those with a limited data plan.
The interface still requires some polish as I feel that the logo itself could be more appealing along with the icons. In the world where everyone thinks the Apple iPhone is the standard for style and user interface, Guardian Anywhere does not quite reach such levels. It is however still early in its development phase.
In all, once the content is loaded it is a good and usable news reader dedicated to the Guardian Newspaper. With some speed optimisations for 3G, which should be the lowest denominator on a mobile, and some polish this application could go far. If you’re a fan of the Guardian then its worth checking out, its totally free to use too!