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USA Today takes first steps towards building universal Android app

USA Today has launched an Android application that includes a new layout aimed to bolster readership and increase engagement.

The new app design is optimized for the latest Android operating system. Additionally, the app is also  compatible with all Android phones and 7-inch tablets, including the Nexus 7.

?This app is our first step towards building a universal app for Android,? said David Payne, chief digital officer of Gannett. ?Our latest version is compatible with phones as well as 7-inch Android tablets. In the near future we plan to update the app to be compatible with 10-inch tablets as well, so that our users can download one USA Today app and it will be compatible across all Android phone and tablet form factors.

?We also introduced offline reading to our phone app users, giving them the ability to download articles in advance for reading on-the-go, even when they don?t have a connection,? he said.

?Updating the design of the app was also very important to us, so that we could provide our users with a clean, simple-to-use interface that is consistent with Google's guidelines.?

USA Today is a multi-platform news and information media company.

Engaging readers
Through the Android app, consumers can browse through a selection of categories including the latest news, money, sports, life, travel, tech and opinion headlines.

Additionally, users can browse photo galleries, view snapshot polls, sports scores and customize their weather information.

One of the new features of the Android app lets readers download USA Today headlines for offline reading.

Being on as many platforms as possible is crucial for publishers.

Nowadays, consumers have an array of devices on-hand that they use to access news content.

Furthermore, simply rolling out an app and not updating it or redesigning it months later is a mistake many marketers make.

Mobile app redesigns are a great way to keep users on their toes, as well as offering them a better mobile experience.

USA Today is smart to redesign their app and include features that will satisfy new and existing users.

?In addition to updating the app to follow Google's 'Holo' interface guidelines, the second most important design principle for us was to make the app look great on the very popular Nexus 7 tablet and Amazon?s latest Kindle Fire HD tablets,? Mr. Payne said.

?We look forward to a future app update that also lays out well on the Nexus 10 and other 10-inch Android tablets,? he said.

Past efforts
USA Today has been ramping up its mobile strategy over the past year.

In September, USA Today gave its Web site and mobile apps a fresh new look as the company invested further in print media, with a bigger focus on digital products as well (see story).

Most recently, USA Today rebuilt its iPad application from the ground up and enhanced it with new utilities and capabilities to drive reader engagement (see story).

?We offer the same advertising options in our Android app that we do in our current USA Today apps,? Mr. Payne said. 

?Opportunities include prestitial ads, banner ads in our headline lists and in our articles, as well as full screen interstitials. Geo-targeting is available, and pre-roll video is coming soon,? he said.

Final Take