The big iPhone app news this week is the official release of CNN Mobile ($1.99), which puts the power of CNN reporting into the palm of your hand. But the company expects to pry two bucks from your other hand for the privilege of enjoying their epic news coverage on the go.
While this app delivers a perfectly slick user interface, buyers should be warned that it's littered with intrusive advertisements. You'll find ad banners layered between paragraphs on posts and as appetizers to streaming videos. One accidental swipe while scanning an article and you'll be held hostage by a full screen ad page. You're paying for that privilege too!
CNN Mobile promises to serve up snack-size highlights, top stories and live streaming video of breaking news, but it also encourages citizen journalists to join CNN's iReporter news team. iPhone users can iReport directly using their phone's advanced photo and video features. For a two dollar bill, anyone can contribute to CNN's news coverage by uploading photos and videos of news right when it happens.
The quality of most video content on CNN Mobile was better than I expected even though the same can't be said for citizen journalist videos that test our patience with mostly forgettable Joe doofus news. I noticed that breaking news videos streaming over 3G loaded surprisingly fast, although CNN encourages users to choose Wi-Fi as a better viewing option. iReport videos were not so zippy, often taking much longer to load.
CNN has managed to debut a user friendly iPhone app with an impressive amount of content. The company does a fine job leveraging iPhone's dynamic features to deliver a stellar mico-media experience. The app is currently sitting at number one in iTunes Top Paid Apps. But there's definitely room for improvement here if CNN will just make those ads disappear.
Paying a premium for mobile news is not offensive if it comes with with a long list of benefits not offered in free apps. Freedom from ad pollution should be the first benefit on that list, not the first reason for buyer remorse.