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July 26, 2017, 1:46 p.m.
Mobile & Apps
LINK:  ➚   |   Posted by: Ricardo Bilton   |   July 26, 2017

The New York Times unveiled a new version of its iOS app yesterday. Version 6.0 — the first major update since last October — adds a handful of notable new features, including simpler personalization, support for split-screen multitasking on the iPad Pro, and support for 360-degree video.

The most noticeable design changes are on the iPad, where the new homepage has some of the modularity that the Times’ ongoing web redesign has. Here’s what the new (top) and previous (bottom) iPad apps looked like this afternoon:

Also noteworthy is what’s under the hood: This is the first version of the app that’s universal for iOS devices, meaning that the same code is at work across the iPad, iPhone, and even the Apple Watch. The Times released the first version of its iPad app in April 2010, just a few months after Apple announced the iPad and shortly before Apple introduced support for universal iPad-iPhone apps. Other news organizations, slower to develop for the iPad, created universal news apps from the beginning. A few months later, the Times started offering access to its iPhone and iPad apps in different subscription tiers, separating the products further.

Both of these product choices complicated the Times’ efforts to bring its iPad and iPhone apps together, as Matthew Bischoff‏, a former Times iOS developer, noted in a thread here. Bischoff‏ said that app’s release was delayed in part by the Times’ decision to rebuild the app in Swift, Apple’s latest programming language.

Creating a universal app for iPhone and iPad should make life a lot easier for the mobile developers at the Times. When the Times experiments with a new feature, for example, developers will be able to code and test it once, rather than do so for multiple devices. This means both faster development and less testing, which should free up developers to push out features more frequently.

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