Controversial NewsToons iPhone app a win for free speech, not for app kind

Apr 26, 2010
Tech

Pulitzer Prize-winning animator Mark Fiore has seen a bit of press recently when the he revealed that Apple rejected his iPhone app NewsToons back in December because the content ridiculed political figures. Really? A political cartoonist poking fun at political figures? You don’t say. Apple hasn’t had much to say on the issue, but on the heels […]

Pulitzer Prize-winning animator Mark Fiore has seen a bit of press recently when the he revealed that Apple rejected his iPhone app NewsToons back in December because the content ridiculed political figures. Really? A political cartoonist poking fun at political figures? You don’t say.

Apple hasn’t had much to say on the issue, but on the heels of Fiore’s Pulitzer win, Apple CEO Steve Jobs did note that the rejection was a mistake. Fiore resubmitted his app and it’s now available for 99 cents. Although I’m glad to see free speech win out in the cause of Fiore’s NewsToons, the artist, whose work often appears on SFGate.com, needs to give his app an overhaul.

From a design standpoint, there isn’t much to this iPhone app. Upon launch, you’ll see the 10 most recent cartoons in list format. Select a video or load older ones 10 at a time. Once you’ve chosen a video, you’ll see a list of raw HTML links (These should be rich text, at the very least.) to news stories that the cartoon is based upon. This is helpful since the videos have no written descriptions other than their titles, and luckily the links open in-app. The videos play via YouTube, also in-app, but were fairly choppy.

When you’re done with the clip, the “done” button returns you to the top of the video list, which means if you are in the mood for older satire, you have to re-scroll through all of Fiore’s content. The lack of a search function makes this equally frustrating.

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Fiore’s content is good, no doubt, but until the app gets an update, the poor design makes this iPhone app a true waste. Stick to Fiore’s searchable YouTube site for the time being.

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Kathryn Swartz

Kathryn Swartz is a freelance writer/editor who doesn't know how people lived pre iPhone. She attended the Missouri School of Journalism.

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