KEeping It Local: Windows Phone News Apps – Kenya And Beyond

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KE.eping It Local
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KE.eping It Local

As mobile landscape in Kenya transitions from “dumb” feature phones to smartphones, the importance of apps with local content grows every day.  Apps enable consumers to discover what’s new around them, quickly order and use a variety of services, conduct transactions like shopping and financial management, the possibilities are endless. In a continuation of our “KEeping It Local: Windows Phone Apps” series, we look at the apps that provide local content to Kenyan Windows Phone users. The apps divided into 5 categories:

TIP – Nunua Na Credo: How to purchase Windows Phone apps using your Safaricom Airtime (Carrier Billing).

The News industry is among the top 5 industries has been completely disrupted by the advent of mobile devices. We don’t have to wait until the next day to read what is going on around us in newspaper print. We have access to content from news organization all over the world at a click of a button. Social media now provides real time updates to events as they happen, often beating the News Organization to “scoops”. This leaves the News Industry to determine how develop mobile applications that only deliver high quality curated journalism, but also develop sustainable monetization solutions. The Kenyan News industry is in a better place than their western counterparts for two reasons:

  • The majority of their customers haven’t made the switch to mobile technology for news consumption.
  • They can analyse the effects of the digital news transition in other countries before implementing their local strategies.

As Windows Phone Users wait for the local News Industry to develop and implement their mobile applications, they have three options for consuming local news content. Websites:

News Websites rendered on Windows Phone.
News Websites rendered on Windows Phone.

The Daily Nation (Nation Media Group), Standard Digital (The Standard Media Group) and The Star have full featured websites. However, only the Daily Nation’s website is a mobile responsive designed site. Mobile responsive design means that the website renders automatically to mobile devices to ensure a consistent and pleasurable user experience. Though the Standard Media website attempts to render itself to the mobile screen, the end result leaves much to be desired. The Star website does not even attempt to render itself to mobile screen and only displays the desktop website. This means the user has to constantly zoom in and pan to read articles. The downside of websites is that they don’t push news to the user. You have to go and open the website, and read. Meaning you can miss breaking news.

TIP: Windows Phone allows you to “pin” a website to your start screen for easy access. Open the website on your phone, expand the browser menu, and select “Pin To Start”. You get a tile showing the website on your start screen. In some websites, you may even get a “Live Tile” that automatically updates with new content from the site. Our Techweez site has this feature. Try it for yourself and see, while you wait for the official TechWeez Windows Phone app (coming soon).

Apps:

Safaricom Daily Nation Reader App, Bing News App, News Republic App
Safaricom Daily Nation Reader App, Bing News App, News Republic App

The power of Apps is that they can utilize the “Always Connected” status of mobile devices together with the sensors available in today’s mobile devices (GPS, gyroscope, accelerometer, etc.) to provide an integrated user experience that offers more value than just static content. Users can now have content delivered dynamically to them, with a UI that matches the operating system of the user’s device. Kenya’s News Industry have started on this journey with the development of such applications. Admittedly, this development is further along on the Android platform (with both the Daily Nation Media Group and Standard Media group both offer their own native apps.) Listed below are best Native Windows Phone Apps for News in Kenya.

Safaricom Daily Nation Reader (Free) Safaricom Daily Nation Reader

Released just a few weeks ago, the Safaricom Daily Nation Reader app provides Safaricom subscribers access to the Daily Nation PDF version on their phones. The app will download the PDF EPaper to your phone.

Description from the Windows Phone Store

Safaricom and Nation Media Group are pleased to bring you the Daily Nation Epaper Reader. Read your favorite newspaper in digital format for free on your Mobiles and Tablet. Get FREE 3 month’s subscription to the Daily Nation epaper. Data charges apply.

Developer: Nation Media Group

Bing News App (Free) News

Developed by Microsoft, the Bing News app offers great content from all over the world. You can select a region for more focused news (e.g. UK, SA, US etc.). Even though it does not offer a dedicated Kenya region, you can still add topics like “Kenya News”, Kenya Newspapers etc.”. Bing News App is also a universal app, meaning that your chosen content syncs seamless between the Windows Phone and Windows 8 apps.

News Republic (Free) News Republic

News Republic is a popular cross platform News aggregator app that enables its users to select their news content by topic. Recommended.

HOT TIP

Both the official Standard Media Group and Daily Nation Windows Phone apps are nearing completion. The Standard Media app and should be in the App Store by the end of this month / early September, with the Daily Nation following some time after that.

RSS Feeds

Screenshot (235)
NextGen News Reader App, Magnify News Reader App

RSS Feeds remain the best way for a Windows Phone user in Kenya to get their fix of local news. RSS (Real Simple Syndication) is a web standard that allows website to automatically distribute content across the web. The process to subscribing and consuming a RSS Feed is simple. All you need is the link to the RSS Feed address and a News Reader app. Services like Feedly, provide an easy way to manage RSS Feed collections, integrate them into News Reader apps and also allow you to export your feed list.

The advantage of using RSS Feeds over dedicated apps is that you can mix and match your news sources to your liking. For example, you may prefer to have National news from all the five different sources in one feed collection, and only choose to have two sources in your sports feed collection. However, apps can offer more functionality over their content if designed right.

To make your life easier when looking for RSS Feeds for Kenyan news, I’ve complied several Feedly lists that you can easily download (click on link to download the OPML file) and import to you news reader, or add to your Feedly account. To see the full list of feeds within each list, click here.

Listed below are some of the top rated news reader in Windows Phone Store.

NextGen Reader  (KES 255 with Free Trial) Nextgen Reader

NextGen reader is a personal favourite. Though it is a paid app, it has a full featured trial. You can easily import your RSS feeds as well discover new feeds within the app.

Description from the Windows Phone Store

A fast, clean and beautiful RSS reader for Windows and Windows Phone. Login once and run on multiple devices.

  • Clean, modern design, inspired from Windows Phone.
  • Offline support, image caching and a lot more.
  • Pin multiple live tiles.
  • Read full articles (powered by Readability).
  • Discover popular feeds or browse through categories.
  • Share articles on your social networks.
  • Save to OneNote, Pocket, Readability and others.

Magnify (KES 85) Magnify News Reader

One of the more stunning News Reader apps, Magnify offers a beautiful experience.

Other News Reader Apps

Phonly (Free ) Phonly

NewsSpot (KES 170 with Free Trial )NewsSpot

Feedsea ( Free ) Feedsea

I implore all of you to give feedback to the app developers and content owners on how their app helped you, or what areas they need to work on. If you can’t contact the developer, be sure to reach out to myself @NairobiWP, @TechWeez, @NokiaEastAfrica or @MicrosoftEA.

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