Review: Globe and Mail’s Globe2Go iPhone app

With a weekly readership of almost a million people, The Globe and Mail is Canada’s largest-circulation national newspaper and second-largest daily newspaper after the Toronto Star.

The Globe and Mail is often described as Canada’s newspaper of record in the English language and is a must read for many Canadians.

A subscription to the printed edition of the Globe and Mail is a welcome addition to any household but what if you want to read “Canada’s National Newspaper” but can’t because you leave too early in the morning, travel a lot, just want to go paperless, or find $30 a month too costly?

That is where the Globe and Mail’s Globe2Go application for the iPhone or iPad comes into play. The application gives subscribers a digital replica of the printed newspaper edition for $20 per month, a 40% discount over home delivery.

To find out more, Digital Home downloaded the Globe2Go version 1.6.1 app and tested it on iPhone 3GS under iOS4.

Using Globe2Go

Once loaded onto our iPhone, we launched the Globe2Go application and were prompted to sign-in to the application. While the iPhone / iPad application is free, the cost of the digital edition is $20 per month hence the need for authorization to ensure you are a paying customer. The digital edition is also available as a $9.95 per month add-on for existing print subscribers.

Once authorized, we had the option of viewing the online content of the Globe and Mail website for the latest news or we could enter “My Library” and download today’s digital edition. Once ”In Library” the app prompted us on which edition of the paper we wished to download. Users have seven editions of the Globe and Mail to choose from including: Alberta, Atlantic, B.C., Ottawa/Quebec, Prairie, Ontario and Metro.

Sample Globe2Go Screenshots

We chose the June 24th edition of the Metro Edition which was 76 pages and just over 80 megabytes in size. Due to the large size of the download, you will want to download digital editions via Wi-Fi or you will begin racking up some serious data charges. To reduce the amount of downloading when Wi-Fi access is unavailable, you can also access selected portions of the paper via 3G without having to download the entire daily edition. The downside of just browsing is you don’t download the paper and don’t have access to the paper when 3G or Wi-Fi access is not available.

Once our digital edition was downloaded, the paper was listed in our Library screen along with any previously downloaded papers. Simply touch on the paper you wish to read and it opens up to the first page of digital edition.

From there you can pinch and zoom, flip pages or go to a table of contents for quickly navigating to a particular section of the paper. . If you chose to shut down the app and return at a later time then you will return to the page you left on when you quit the app.

Thoughts

After spending a few hours with the Globe2Go app, we were impressed with what we saw. The user interface was easy to use, the table of contents allowed us to quickly navigate to favourite sections of the paper and once we selected an article, it was a joy to read.

The downside of the Globe2Go app is the small iPhone screen. A small screen can hardly compare to the joy of laying out a broadsheet newspaper in front of you. With a newspaper, you can quickly scan across two pages for headlines and photos or graphs of interest. With the small iPhone screen, it’s harder to discern the headlines and photos on a page view thereby making reading the paper less inviting and less enjoyable.

Despite the difficulty of navigating a large page condensed onto an iPhone screen, we think the Globe2Go is a great application for Globe and Mail print users who would like to have access to the Globe and Mail when they are not at home or on those days when the paper doesn’t make it on time. Because the canvas of the iPhone is so small, we don’t recommend this as a substitute for the print edition.

The Globe and Mail digital edition may be more than sufficient however if you are an iPad owner. With the iPad’s much larger screen, navigating the digital edition is much closer to the print experience. Whether the iPad’s screen is large enough that you will want to drop the print edition will depend on personal preference but our recommendation, if you’re considering it, is to try it out.

iPhone or iPad users can download the Globe2Go app at no charge from the iTunes App store and trial the Globe2Go service for 14 days at no charge and experience it for themselves.

In addition to being able to download the paper every day to your iPhone or iPad, a Globe2Go subscription also provides users with access to a digital edition of the paper which can be read on your laptop or desktop personal computer (provided you have an internet connection).

Discuss your experience with the Globe2Go iPhone app in Digital Home’s Smartphone applications forum.

Comments

6 Responses to “Review: Globe and Mail’s Globe2Go iPhone app”
  1. Bubbalicious says:

    Sounds great, but how does one justify paying $20/month when the Globe and Mail website is free, constantly updated, and looks pretty good on the iPad through Safari? Also, aren’t these “digital epaper” versions a step backwards in the sense that they lack most of the interactivity and social networking aspects of a webpage (commenting on articles, discussion forums, twittering about them, “liking” them, emailing them, quoting text, etc.)? Finally, are these digital editions of the G&M essentially just graphics files? Can we change or resize the text? Zoom pictures? Are they massively huge files?

  2. Rex says:

    Something tells me you don’t subscribe to the Globe!

    The rationale for the Digital Edition of the Globe and Mail is the same as the printed product. You want all the content in a nice accessible manner. You can’t read a website on a plane, in a subway or someplace where you don’t have WiFi or 3G.

    Also a considerable amount of the content in the Globe is not on the website.

  3. Jason Bonham says:

    I pay to have the Globe delivered to my door. We recently canceled the Weekday delivery and have been annoyed by Globe telemarketers to re-subscribe.

    During the latest call, I explained that I would LOVE to have it in digital form but was not willing to pay an additional $20 per month for access on ONE digital device when they are saving all printing and delivery costs….

    She was dumbfounded and had no retort.

  4. Mike says:

    I was a print edition subscriber for a few years. I became annoyed with the rising costs and was finding I was accumulating too many piles of unread papers. I decided to switch to the GlobePlus plan for viewing on my PC and found the experience lacking: the interface was clunky and slow at times, scrolling with the mouse click-wheel didn’t work. I definitely preferred the print edition.

    The iPhone/iPad is $20 vs $16 for the GlobePlus plan and I’d expect the viewing experience to be better than the GlobePlus plan on a computer. Maybe it will be a step up for me to switch to the Globe2Go app.

  5. Bubbalicious says:

    I tried it out on my iPad. It’s pretty nice, but still not worth the price to me. Devices like the iPad offer so many possibilities for publishers that it is really quite disappointing to see them cling to the “physical paper” metaphor. Like I said before, after almost two decades of the web, this seems like a big step backwards in my opinion.

    Rex: I don’t subscribe to the Globe, but I pick up a printed copy about once or twice a month. I am aware of what it contains. There is some content in the print version that is not available online, particularly editorials and such, but most of what I’d call the big opinion pieces are online. The website however, has much content that is not available through the printed paper, including various writers’ blogs and much more up to date news stories.

    I agree that there are times when an “e-paper” has advantages, particularly when access to the web isn’t available (putting aside the possibility of caching a web site for later static viewing). However, that’s actually fairly rare, at least where I live, and when I do have to go without the web (flight, etc.) I can live without the Globe and Mail for a few hours. Airports have wifi for pre-flight, and most airlines will give you a free copy of the physical paper anyway. I might be more interested if Globe2Go allowed me to pay for just one issue, on demand, but as it is it’s just not worth it to me to pay $240 a year so that I have access to an e-paper for the odd time I NEED to read underground or on a plane, particularly if all I’m getting is a reproduction of the physical paper that I could just stick under my arm anyway. I’ll pass, the website is better as a news source and accessible enough for me.

  6. RC says:

    I start everyday with a coffee and globe2go on my iPad. In my mind, this is an essential app. I have one enhancement request: ability to search within and across multiple days would be nice.

    I also wish they published on Sundays!