Yahoo! Livestand for iPad: Seems Like a Nice News App Until You Try to Use It

Struggling Yahoo finally released the Livestand for iPad news reading app that was first announced way back in February. Yahoo discusses the technical details of the server and client technologies developed and used for the app in their developer blog.

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The app has a clean graphically rich but uncluttered look. However, the saying looks aren’t everything definitely applies to this app. Once you get past the optional sign-in for the multiple profiles available, the first thing you’ll notice is that the app is often sluggish (I tested it on an iPad 2). For example, it took what seemed like nearly a minute for my personal Mix of news to appear after tapping the icon. Once in the mix, one of the news columns took about 30 seconds to render. Then, there’s the inconsistent user interface. Once you start drilling down into news items, most navigation is done using gestures. However, moving back up the path requires tapping a left arrow in the middle of the vertical command column on the left. This breaks the convention most people learn from browser use where the backward navigation button is on the upper left of the display.

That said, access to well-known content providers like Scientific American, Consumer Reports and Lonely Planet will attract a lot of people. The question is will these same people continue to use the app after discovering its slow operation and somewhat unusual navigation options?

The Livestand app is available for free in the iTunes App Store:

Livestand from Yahoo!

Finally, you might ask what the outline of the dog in the profile list means. Yahoo says that it is intended to represent a news profile for the whole family. Go figure.