Boats. Stupid Boats.

Well, I’ve finally deleted the Straits Times app. It was getting to be a subscribers only thing. It’s not that I don’t want to pay for apps, I just don’t want to pay for something that’s not properly made. Heck, I buy digital comics on Comixology and that’s gorgeous. To those who’re thinking of buying the app, I say hah to you! Not sure if they give a demo for readers to see how it is since I managed to check it out while it was free.

So here is why I think the ST app is sucky (and it still is unless they reupdated everything from the time of this post).

Warning: This is super long because it is that craptastic. I’ll do it in sections instead. Just click on the screenshots to make it bigger, I didn’t want to load it to fill the screen cause it is A LOT of screenshots.

Starting the app:

After clicking onto the app, I was ok with the splash screen of “Straits Times” and expected the app to start right away. That’s what anyone would expect right?


Unexpectedly, it led to a video of boats. This is an utter time waster as I wanted to read the news and not watch boats go by on the river.

If I wanted to do that, I’d check youtube or just go to the bridge itself. If this page was supposed to be a loading sequence, it would be better with a loading progress bar with how many percentage it is left so that we’d know this page isn’t useless. As it is, the boats sequence has turned off a lot of my friends who have tried the app and would not want to use it again.

AND GUESS WHAT!  You can’t turn off this boat sequence and will start up each time you haven’t gone to the app for a while.

After the boat sequence, I expected to go to today’s news straight away instead of being faced with an option of past news. I’m not a time traveller or the Doctor, why are you doing this to me.

News of the day not loaded

When I want to read the news or ask people/shops for the newspapers, they do not give me an option of yesterday’s or last week’s news as they would know I would want the current one.

Do you think I go to the newstands and say, “Hello uncle, I want the Straits Times… No, not today’s I want last week’s”?!!??!!?

If I wanted past news, I’d search on my own in the archives. A button or settings elsewhere would be better.

Needing to download pdfs

Also, if pressed “Later” on the notification screen, it will repeatedly pop up and not close until I press “Yes”. I will go on more about the pdfs in its own section below but this is rather annoying.

Help and Settings

The buttons are small and I didn’t even notice it until I started searching for it. As for the help, I didn’t see it the first time when I wanted to try out the app and the whole interface of the iPad version is not very intuitive.


Oooh la di da, what’s this? We have to delete the pdfs on our own? So hmmmmmmm, does anyone think this might get piled up and waste the space in our iPads?

Most people won’t even check this screen. The instructions to “swipe the pdf” to delete it is rather vague as I had to try a few directions to swipe it away. It gives no option to switch off pdf downloading either.

Choosing the format:


Choosing a format. What is the point of this app now?

Apparently there are 3, which I must say is ridiculous.

More options doesn’t mean that it is good. It just means that whichever team created this didn’t get to concentrate on one proper format for the app. When I downloaded the ST app, I expected that it would have been a streamlined “give us the news” application which wouldn’t waste our time.

Reading the actual paper would be faster than loading this. Let’s break it down, shall we? (Yes, we will, since you’re reading this.)

Breaking News

If according to the instructions of the main page, the whole pinching and swiping thing does not work at all here.

Also, what is the point of breaking news to be on a different section from the “iPad edition”? I would have to close the iPad edition to go to breaking news and this is not a very immersive experience.

The kerning, paragraph and font in breaking news is pretty bad when there’s a lot of paragraphs involved since they’re all squished together. I would assume that the breaking news is grabbing material from a server where the original was just plain text.

You can’t increase font size either for breaking news which is pretty bad for those needing to read the iPad from a distance or have bad eyesight.

The iPad edition

When I first tried this without looking at the instructions, it took a few tries of pressing to know what was what. However, even after knowing the instructions, it isn’t very optimal for reading.

That’s just me trying to tactfully say, it is sucky.

Well, now that’s not tactful at all, I guess.

This is how a regular page would look like. If you decide to swipe the page to get to the next one…

I would hit the picture and be led to a page of the picture itself. The settings for this has got to change to a double tap or something that wouldn’t be so easy to enter pictures.

I mean, I WANT TO READ THE NEXT PAGE, why do I want to look at the picture itself if all you have to do is just simply touch it?!

Looking at pictures is easier than turning the next page for this app!?!?!??!

There aren’t enough interrobangs to wonder what the whole concept of this app is by this point.

Some sections are weird. You can see the headlines and a little paragraph on it. The example above, when I click on Forum Online leads to nearly the same text but with just one of the titles of the letters cut off.

This is so sad. Also, makes you go “Cheat my feelings!” especially when you realize it was just one sentence that was cut off from the “main article” in the preview of the sections.

There are a lot of sections similar to this and it is rather confusing on what the page is trying to look like here. Furthermore, under some headlines there are no contributor names, only when you click to the article itself. It may not seem like much but some of us would want to refer to our friends “Hey, did you check out this headline by X? It’s pretty neat” etc.

This is even sadder.

For an app that ST has proudly touted, it doesn’t look as if there was much thought to the content placement. I increased the font and noticed that the biggest size has a limit and that it wasn’t that big as it could have been. I like to check what the biggest size is as I have worked with students with limited visual capabilities that do use computers and technology to read as you can increase font size for them to read.

In addition to that, the article doesn’t flow to fill the space provided and instead sticks to its own columns. Basic ebooks I’ve read have been formatted to overcome this or subscription magazines like Wired on the iPad do not have problem like these. It’s in the first point when making e-subscriptions. To make text flow to the device’s resolution.


There are only thumbnails without a description of what the videos are about. Yes, it’s the picture strip you see on top of the page there are videos. I’m not going to click on every single thumbnail to find out what it is about or if they have any relevance to the current news. Is it supposed to complement the experience or something?


Guess what, I know how to do that too (and those interested to do that for  your own ebooks can hire me, you know my email! Tee hee! Which leads us to…).


I understand the need for ads since it brings a source of income to ST however, the ads that suddenly pop up when I want to get to the next page is pretty jarring.

At one point when I wanted to close the ad when the video was playing, the whole thing crashed on me and so I had to start the ST app again and be faced with the annoying boat sequence once more.

Thanks. Thanks for letting me watch the boat sequence again.

I will pretend that I am a pirate of the Carribbean with Captain Jack Sparrow and he will ask me, “Sarah! What are you watching, matey?”.

And I will answer, “Oh captain! Boats! I’m watching the boats!”.

Meanwhile, I was also faced with this rotate your iPad to portrait orientation to view content.

I am not interested in ads and I am not going to make an extra effort to unlock my iPad orientation when I’m working on landscape mode on other apps. This is akin to asking a person to switch on their televisions to watch an ad when they were in the midst of doing work.

The PDF version

I would have thought the pdf version would at least be ok if the breaking news and iPad edition wasn’t.

Unfortunately, it was a disappointment too. Dividing it into sections is convenient but that’s where it ends.

At the beginning of starting the ST app, I would not have expected a pdf version since apps are apps. ST app isn’t supposed to be a pdf reader. I have ibooks or bluefire reader for that.

Seriously? You show us the pdf just like that?

The ST app is not a good pdf reader. It showed us the whole Straits Times front page on screen which meant it took a lot of pinching and spreading to read the actual article. Unlike pdf readers, I couldn’t expand to as big as I wanted either (HUR HUR).

The only upside to this was that it did not have those pop up advertisements that would crash it and lead to my whole pretending to be a pirate of the Carribean thing again.

And wouldn’t you know it! The pdf version of this is worse on the iPad compared to the subscription version on the Straits Times website itself.

That version I liked because I had a mouse or a touchpad to use the tools available.

This version had none of that cause duh, this is on an iPad! Oh wait, my bad. Cause duh it goes with the logic with how this app is made.


It think most people just downloaded it since it was free but now… I don’t know who’ll subscribe to it.

The ST app looks like it’s trying to stuff the typical newsprint format into an app instead of an app taking in the content of the newsprint. I’ll just keep to reading the online version instead of subscribing the iPad version. It’s not worth it unless they do an overhaul of the system for it.


Ps. If I seem to be missing words, it’s probably cause of the boats. So if anything blame the boats and my rage of it even appearing.

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Well, this is seriously Sarah and that's all you need to know for now.

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