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aratanisuAs reported by Black Tokyo earlier today, three major Japanese newspapers have teamed up to create an iPhone / iPod touch app featuring the latest news from Japan.

The app, あらたにす (Allatanys) [iTunes, free, Japanese only] allows users to access the headlines, editorials and business sections of the Nikkei, Asahi, and Yomiuri newspapers, as seen at, a site created by the big three in November 2007 to in response to changes in people’s reading habits.

The app also features a photo tab – click on any image to be taken to the accompanying story.

Having downloaded the app, it’s clear that it’s been made in  strict accordance with Japanese website design guidelines, in that, it’s a bit of a mess.

It’s unfortunate that it’s completely lacking in iPhone sexiness, and were it not for the menu bar at the bottom of the screen one could be mistaken for assuming it was just a standard Japanese website being viewed in mobile Safari.

As other users have commented, the characters are too small to read, and should you choose to view the whole story (by clicking on it), a warning message is thrown up asking you if it’s OK to switch to mobile safari, i.e. no in-app browser.

The photo option also leaves a lot to be desired. The images appear to part of a single large image that is about twice the size of the iPhone screen that you flick around – only limited zooming is permitted, with the individual images maxing out when they only fill a quarter of the screen. A single tap on any one image will take you to an extract of the accompanying story, a further tap will close the app and launch the story in Safari.

I found it was only too easy to accidentally tap on a story when navigating the app prompting the switch-to-Safari warning.

Whilst of course it’s good news that the papers are starting to accept that they need to start to cater for other platforms, it’s a shame that three such big heavyweights were not able to put a bit more funding into this project so as to make it something worth talking about (not like here, where I’m not talking about it).

Until it’s updated, あらたにす will be going the way of 振り向き美人 (Furimuki Bijin – a beautiful girl when she turns around), which I was forced to download for review purposes [iTunes, Free], but having discovered just how silly it is then decided to not do a whole blog about it but instead to mention it at the end of another blog post at some point.

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