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Friday, September 16, 2011

Citizen, Postmedia launch new Android app

The new Citizen app for Android smart phones
Postmedia Network Inc., is taking another step toward better engaging audiences through new media with the Friday launch of a free application for Android-powered smartphones.

"The new app works really well," said Drew Gragg, the Ottawa Citizen's deputy editor, digital media. "The Citizen app is the ideal way to get the latest news that's relevant here in Ottawa."

Android users can download the free app in the Android Market by searching Ottawa Citizen or tapping .

Having already made its chain of newspapers — which include the Citizen, the National Post, Montreal Gazette, Calgary Herald and Vancouver Province — available through mobile-enabled websites and with apps for tablets such as the iPad, BlackBerry PlayBook and HP TouchPad, this latest offering is another example of Canada's largest publisher of paid English newspapers responding to technological trends.

Android is an operating system designed by Google Inc., on smartphones made by companies such as HTC, Motorola and LG. It is the fastest growing smartphone platform and biggest rival to Apple Inc.'s iPhone.

"Android is growing like wildfire, and it is the main competitor to Apple's iPhone or IS operating system," said Steve Buors, Postmedia Network's senior vice-president of digital media strategy and product development. "So it's a great opportunity for us as a massive news organization to be on this device."

Users of Android, or essentially any of the major smart phones, including iPhones and BlackBerrys, were already able to access Postmedia Network's content via mobile-enabled websites, including and the various newspaper sites.

But the Android-specific application, Buors explained, gives users a number of enhanced features, such as navigation options tailor-made for the Android operating system, advanced photo and video features, easy sharing through social networks or email, connections to related news stories and the option of downloading content for later off-line viewing.

The upcoming Android app is for Postmedia Network's chain of local newspapers. An Android app was released for the National Post earlier this summer.

Buors said the launch of this Android application is another part of Postmedia Network's strategy of giving people news and content in the format best-suited to them.

"Mobile is absolutely core to our go-forward strategy at Postmedia," he said. "People are consuming more news and information than ever before. The challenge for us as a news organization is they're consuming in more places than ever before, as well.

"So our job is to make sure that we give people quick, easy access in a way that makes sense for the device that they're on, whether they're reading the print newspaper — which a lot of people still do, despite what some people might think — whether they're looking at it on their computer, whether they're looking at it on their tablet or whether they're looking at it on their smartphone."

Other additions or improvements to Postmedia Network's mobile capabilities are also on tap in the coming days and weeks, the company said.

For example, general mobile accessibility on websites for all smartphones will be upgraded over the next week or so, to, among other things, allow for device-specific optimization, more content, better navigation, and better viewing of video and photos.

Also, an iPhone app for newspapers in British Columbia's Lower Mainland will be launched in the coming week before being rolled out to the rest of the chain at a later date.

Also, the Montreal Gazette will be launching an improved version of its Hockey Inside/Out app for iPhones in advance of the upcoming National Hockey League season.


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