Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Screw You, CNN iPad App!

I wouldn't mind watching video from CNN live on my iPad tonight, while the election returns come in. I installed the CNN election app. I was prepared for it to be a bit bumpy. After all, it's not easy to debug an election-night application in advance, when there is no election. Still I'm pissed by how this app behaved.

The puff-wording for this app merely implied that anyone could watch CNN live. And when I opened the app, a popup box said I should simply tap “CNN live” to see the video. Just one problem: the words “CNN Live” were nowhere on the screen.

It turns out that in order to see those words, I had to make the main screen slide to the right, exposing a column of options including those fateful words. And how did I make the main screen slide to the right? By fortuitiously sliding my finger DOWN the screen.

When I tapped “CNN live”, I got the “which is your video provider?” screen. Okay, so CNN's promise was a little less universal than they suggested. Fortunately, I have an approved provider: Verizon. Next, the CNN app asked me to log in to Verizon by providing my ID and password. Fine; other apps have done this to me before.

CNN provided an impossibly tiny pair of lines that I had to select, in order to type my data. By mistake I tapped “cancel” when I tried to tap “password”, and the app returned to the main screen.

I started over, eventually exposing the same ID/password screen. I had realized what I had done wrong; I had not used the universal iPad gesture to expand this screen so that I could reliably tap on it. I put two fingers on the screen and spread them.

The CNN screen acted like a tight rubber band. It refused to stay expanded so that I could tap it. But finally I entered my ID and tapped password. The app then crashed.

I started over, but now the app said that it could not reach its server. I deleted the app from memory and started the whole business again. But the app crashed, again, when I tried to see the ID/password screen.

CNN, the heck with you. I have downloaded the New York Times app.

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