Incredibly customizable, the amazingly speedy and full featured initial version of the STL Post Dispatch Windows Phone app may be the best news app I’ve ever used.
Firstly, let me start by saying the app is incredibly speedy. Within seconds of opening the app for the first time the panorama control loads with content and its background is displaying a picture from a recent story. USA Today could take lessons on load times. The app looks good whether you’re using a light or dark theme, but I prefer the dark. This is no simple rss or news reader.
I mentioned the front page is customizable, and that isn’t limited to just headings like “news’ and “sports”. You can select individual sports teams ranging from the local college teams to professional teams. Every section of the newspaper is there to choose from. You can even add individual twitter streams from the Post Dispatch writers on the front page. You can pin most of the individual sections I mentioned above to the Windows Phone start screen as secondary live tiles. For instance I pinned the “music” section and found a story about upcoming Lou Fest artists.
What’s refreshing is that the majority of this content is handled within the app, it doesn’t just kick you off to a mobile version of a website. This includes the twitter feeds. There are instances where you are sent to a mobile site, for classifieds and live chats for instance, yet those seems to be far and few between.
The app also features a “send to post-dispatch” feature which allows you to tip the Post-Dispatch on breaking news. This feature brings up the standard “send from” dialogue box allowing you send an email from your email accounts that are set up on the phone. When you’re within a story you have the normal options seen in most news apps: share, save, previous, next. But this app implements Facebook and Twitter sharing better than any I have ever used. They use the rarely used “post a link” OS hook, allowing you to post to the social accounts you have set up on your phone like you would when posting from your “Me” tile, rather than kicking you off to a mobile website that makes you re-authenticate to Facebook or Twitter. This may seem minor, but it’s a drastic improvement in experience and it’s really great to see an app implement it right.
It does not appear the app’s main live tile is enabled with real time content yet, but the secondary live tiles are. The music tile I pinned previously started showing artist pictures within a few minutes. That seems to be the only oversight in this otherwise amazing app.
It is incredibly refreshing to see a local entity such as the Post Dispatch support Windows Phone and even better knock it out of the park on their first try. This is EASILY the best way to enjoy the post dispatch content. I doubt I’ll ever actively go to their website again. I’m interested to see what improvements future versions bring. Download the STL Post Dispatch app today on the Windows Phone Marketplace.