There was an uncomfortable moment the other day, when Ed Driscoll asked me if I’d review the new PJ Media app for your iPhone and iPad. I mean, I work here. I’ve been getting a paycheck from PJ Media since it launched way back in 2005 — and I’m not exactly known for keeping my mouth shut. But then I figured, that’s kind of what they hired me for, so if it’s a review they want, it’s a review they’ll get.
Now, longtime VodkaPundit readers know I love Apple. It started with iPod lust, then quickly blossomed into an all-consuming affair, including an iMac, more iPods, a Mac Pro, an iPad, three generations of iPhones starting with the very first one, and it’s a sure thing I’ll order an iPad 3 just as soon as they go on sale next month. What you also need to know is, I have also mercilessly ripped Apple products when necessary. Sure, I’m a fan — but I’m no fanboy. I won’t let my biases get in the way of honest criticism.
Keep that in mind when I tell you: The PJ Media app is pretty darn good.
The iPhone version is especially sharp. There’s a bottom row of buttons to your favorite places — the home page, the Tatler, columnists such as yours truly, the Lifestyle page, and, of course, Instapundit. Clicking on each gives you a list of stories, with blurbs. And you have the now-traditional pull-to-refresh feature to get the latest items. Ads are minimal and unobtrusive.
Yes, there are a few banner ads. Did I mention the app is free?
I’m a little more conflicted about the iPad version. It looks sharp, but the small navigation buttons look a little lost on that 10-inch screen. Maybe they just need to be higher-contrast. The story scrollbar is on the left, giving you access to links even while you’re reading an item — that’s something you can’t do on the tiny iPhone. Best part? Unlike every single other news app out there out there — at least in my experience — our app allows you to copy text for pasting elsewhere. In other words, the PJ app is actually useful to people who write or blog for a living — or who just like to share. Blogging is in PJ’s DNA, and it shows.
I only see one major flaw. For existing readers like you, it’s great. Easy navigation, so you’ll know what to expect and where to find your favorite writers. But when going to each page, the default “big panel” is just a blowup of the PJ logo. You have to kind of hunt through the scrollbar, and then click on something, before that giant logo gets replaced by something useful. New readers should get a little more direction, more great stuff to read, without having to work for it. Our top stories of the day should be right there in their faces, each time they navigate somewhere new.
I talked to our managing editor, Aaron Hanscom, about the Big Staring Logo, and he tells me I’m not the only one to think it’s a flaw. Hopefully we’ll get that fixed in an update before too long.
Overall, though? What a handy (and free!) way to put a little VodkaPundit right in your pocket.
You can download me — er, it — right here from the iTunes App Store.