I’ve got two big things to announce today. First, we redesigned our website back in March (more at the end)…you probably noticed. I apologize for not writing about it sooner, but I’ve been working to get our new iOS (iPhone, iPad, etc) and Android apps launched (which is the second announcement).
New App is Customized for Your Operation
RealAgriculture has grown a lot since the launch of our first app three years ago. What worked then doesn’t work as well now. In our previous app, for example, you would receive a notification for every story we published.
But, as the only national agriculture publication, we’ve expanded our coverage immensely in three years, and we’ve received feedback that there were too many notifications that weren’t relevant.
Our new app puts you in control. You will only get the stories and notifications relevant to you and your operation. During setup, you’ll be able to select from a list of our most popular article categories, topics and even specialists (like Peter Johnson and Anne Wasko).
You’ll only receive notifications from your selections, so if you’re a canola/wheat farmer from Saskatchewan you can skip our livestock coverage or vice versa.
You’ll also be able to change which notifications you receive. If your operation diversifies, your personally-catered content can too.
Save Articles for Later
Another new feature of the app is the ability to save articles for later. No time to read now? Don’t worry. Just tap the “star” icon beneath a story to save it for later.
This also allows for offline reading while you’re on a plane or without cell reception.
Audio and videos will still require reception to watch or listen.
Coming soon: you’ll be able to login to our website and read your saved articles from anywhere.
News, Weather, Trending and Text-to-Speech
No time to read? Don’t like reading on a small screen? No problem. Let your phone read you the story. Using your phone’s native accessibility functionality, simply tap to have your phone read you the story. This is one of my favourite new features.
We’ve also included local weather in the app, which gives wind speed and humidity for your region. If you tap into the weather section for more information, you’ll also get the upcoming forecast and weather radar.
Similar to our website design, we’ve separated our news coverage from our regular coverage. This means you won’t receive notifications for news, though these posts will always be available on the main page.
Plus, just like on the website, we’ve added real-time trending articles.
Setting Up the App
The first time you load the app, we’re going to ask for 4 things:
- Email address: This is only to save your settings so that you can retrieve them later or on another device (like a tablet). We won’t email you. You can skip this.
- Location Permission: This is for accurate weather and to give you relevant articles (you can skip this as well).
- Select story categories: Select from topics like Corn, Canola, Wheat, Machinery, Cattle, Soybeans, etc. These choices will affect which stories are displayed in your main feed.
- Notifications Permission: You’ll only receive notifications for the categories you selected above (you can also skip/deny this).
That’s it. You can always change your settings later under the “Settings” icon on the bottom right.
Install the App
If you have the old app installed on your phone, you just need to update it and you’ll automatically get the new one.
Bad news Blackberry folk: there’s no new app for you. Good news: the old app will continue to work for you a while longer.
There’s not a lot to say here that you don’t already know, but similar to the app we started the site’s design and infrastructure over from scratch. Using a simpler, mobile-first design with significantly less code we’ve made the site faster and easier to use.
Over 60% of you, our readers, now use a mobile device to view our site and the new design is built to be fast while still being pretty, whether on a desktop or a phone/tablet. We wanted to start over with a bare bones site that would give us a lot more flexibility to build upon. We’ve got a lot of plans, but this post is already too long so I’ll save that for another day.