This week we show some state-of-the-art features for tablet video apps, and we explain what happens when audience members not only get to ask questions but also go along with a reporter in search of the answers.

PART 1: User-friendly video apps

About 65 percent of tablet owners spend an hour or more every day watching video on their devices, according to research by IPG Media Lab and the ad agency YuMe. Meanwhile, recent research from RJI found that nearly 4 out of 5 tablet owners have downloaded one or more apps specifically for news. Put it together and it spells a lot of potential eyeballs for news-related video on the devices. In light of that, we offer a roundup of user-friendly ideas for presenting video inside a tablet app.

Reporting by Laura Davison.

[To skip directly to this segment in YouTube, click here.]

Apps shown in our report:

What to watch there: HBO’s entire library of movies and television shows. Shows are uploaded immediately after they air on the HBO channel. A cable subscription to HBO is required to access the app, however that could soon change.
Noteworthy features: The main interface allows users to swipe in any direction to browse content. HBO Go content syncs between devices, so if a user stops watching in the middle of a show on the tablet and starts watching again on a desktop computer, the show picks up at the point where it left off.

What to watch there: A selection of TV shows, movies and Netflx’s own original series like “House of Cards” and “Orange is the New Black.” Netflix requires a monthly subscription to access content.
Noteworthy features: The app sorts titles by category, letting users search for specific types of content. Users can add individual items to a list to view later. Like HBO GO, Netflix syncs between devices.

What to watch there: The most recent NBC series episodes, like “The Voice” or “Parks and Recreation.”
Noteworthy features: The app lets users select favorite shows, making it easy to find new episodes/updates when they become available.

What to watch there: Individual news videos and (after entering local cable provider information) a live stream of CNN or HLN.
Noteworthy features: An interface with photos and headlines helps users scan the latest news. A play button in the center of the tile indicates whether it’s a video or text story.

Associated Press
What to watch there: News videos of the latest headlines as part of a full-service news app that includes text, photos, and other multimedia.
Noteworthy features: Unlike with some mainstream news apps, users in search of video can go directly that content without having to sort through all available stories to find the video segments.

What to watch there: Crackle’s library consists of free movies and television shows. It’s less robust than Netflix, but does contain some good mainstream titles, such as "Seinfeld."
Noteworthy features: The app suggests video content for users. It also enables users to create personalized watchlists and post viewing activity to social media.

What to watch there: Short news videos that analyze what various outlets are reporting about various news topics.
Noteworthy features: The app lets users sort by type of news. It prominently features a playlist bar at the top, so users can create a playlist and then let the customized program run.

PART 2: WBEZ's Curious City

With its Curious City engagement project, Chicago public radio station WBEZ not only encourages audience members to ask and vote on questions to be answered -- it also takes members of the public out alongside the station's reporters in search of the answers. Two members of the WBEZ team explain what it’s like to include citizens in the reporting process.
[To skip directly to this segment in YouTube, click here.]

Additional information:

The project is "a way of inverting the traditional power structure of journalism whereby the public gets to assign journalists stories," Brandel explains in this Q&A with the Knight Lab. She also says her biggest surprises about Curious City are that members of the public "ask the exact kind of questions we were hoping to get" and that the project has been "really gratifying for reporters."

Curious City is one of five media-related projects awarded funding this summer from the Knight Foundation's Prototype Fund.

Reuben Stern  
Director of NYC Partnerships


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