The NZ Herald Windows Phone App

Late last year SHIFT did a great job helping APN to update their mobile website

The website works great on Windows Phone but just not enough people know it exists or access it regularly.

To tie in with the upcoming Nokia Windows Phone launches on Telecom and Vodafone in New Zealand the team at APN have just released a new NZ Herald native app for Windows Phone.

The app enables the user to select the sections of the NZ Herald that they care about and provides a dynamic view of the latest stories in those categories. On the back of the tile a summary of the story is shown and if you choose to read more you are taken to the appropriate page on the mobile website. The back stack on Windows Phone handles the transition between the app and the article on the mobile website very nicely and it actually feels like to the two things have been designed together to work in harmony.

The two features that I really love is the platform sharing option attached to each article, this enables you to quickly share stories via the social networks that you care about (Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn etc) without the need to set up additional login steps. If you are a developer check out How to: Use the Share Link Task for Windows Phone to find out how to use the new "Mango" ShareLinkTask Launcher in Windows Phone 7.5.

imageimageThe other feature I love is the search feature across the NZ Herald archive, I couldn’t resist doing an ego search for “nigel parker” to find two articles and as you’ll see in the picture on the left the “Microsoft Imagine Cup” has generated a lot of stories over the years.

I’m certainly reading more articles each day as a result of this app and I think it will do a great job of increasing the usage of the great mobile website that APN have built as well. This in my opinion is a great example where a native app can compliment the mobile web.

From a design perspective a quick glance at the interface shows that it is perfectly aligned using the gridline/grid set of red squares, 25×25 pixels, offset 12 pixels from one another, and all contained within a page padding of 24px Again: the magical Metro number is 12-based on those edges. For developers wanting to guide their own designs check out Jeff Wilcox’s Metro Grid Helper. Also the splash screen has a nice 32 bit colour gradient, as an app developer remember to enable 32-bit colour if your application supports it and take advantage of all the screen real estate available to your app.

The application started from the Windows Phone Pivot Application template and has been data bound to the existing JSON mobile services that APN had already built.

If you are a developer that is looking to work with Windows Phone and leverage existing JSON services I recommend that you take a look at JSON.NET built by Wellington developer James Newton King or use the platform deserialization option.

It is also a good idea to gzip your JSON calls to speed up your requests by 50-80%.

The other trick in an app like this that loads lots of images, is to load the images on a background thread.

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