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Want to Keep Up With Chicago News? There's an App for That

By JoshMogerman in Miscellaneous on Aug 22, 2010 7:00PM

The iPhone has gotten a strong compliment of Chicago news apps of late [image by Ninja M]
If you are among the legions of Chicagoans toting an iPhone, there is no excuse for being out of touch with the news these days. Until recently, Chicago was not well represented in the iTunes store. In fact, what should have been the flagship of the Second City’s local news offerings was an embarrassment with a woeful and limited app from the Chicago Tribune. But this week’s rollout of a reconceptualized app from the folks in Michigan Avenue’s gothic tower is just the latest in a groundswell of Chicago media offerings for Apple devices. Here’s a quick rundown:

Shockingly, the Sun-Times has not gotten around to developing a news app---only a garage sale tracker, which might be really exciting for the guys at American Pickers, but does little for us. The presence of solid offerings from the Trib, Daily Herald and Chicago Maroon make the struggling daily’s absence all the more glaring.

  • Chicago Tribune - $1.99
    Probably no surprise that the Trib’s blogger Scott Kleinberg is in love with the new app, but he does make an effort to avoid over-gushing in this good rundown of features. iTunes users give it four out of five stars in the app’s first week.
  • Daily Herald - Free
    Need your suburban news fix? It’s here in an attractive package that gets four stars from iTunes.
  • Chicago Maroon - Free
    Hyde Park and the University of Chicago get proper treatment from this app, which highlights stories from the student paper and includes a nifty location-based news feature. It gets 3.5 stars from users in iTunes.

A number of local stations offer apps to stream their broadcast with little else in terms of features. Not surprisingly, WBEZ’s new free app stands out from the pack with gorgeous images, blog links, updated news feeds and an alarm clock. This could have been a knockout if they had tied in some of the station’s excellent Vocalo bloggers like Lee Bey and Jim DeRogatis, but it still rates four stars from iTunes users. Unfortunately, all of the radio apps are hampered by the iPhone’s weakest feature---AT&T’s erratic network, which drops radio streams often in our experience.

All of Chicago’s major TV stations have jumped into the mobile realm with both feet. The offerings are all fairly similar with strong graphics, weather, and video links. All of them are free.

  • WGNtv
    Not getting enough of Tom Skilling? Is that even possible? Put him in your pocket.
  • CBS 2 Chicago
    News, weather, sports and tweets.
  • Fox Chicago News
    News, sports, traffic, weather and an interesting screen that allows you to send photos and news tips directly to their news room, should you be attacked by a Transformer, an alligator, or an angry Mayor.
  • ABC7Chicago
    Includes photo slide shows, flight tracker, Horoscope and movie times features along with the normal news and weather feeds.
  • NBC Chicago
    If there is one TV station that stands out in the app space, its Channel 5…though for some iTunes reviewers, it is not in a good way. Much like their Web site, NBC Chicago is focused on lifestyle and celebrity news. There’s a huge market for the niche, but it opens them up to criticisms like this on the iTunes store, “Don’t bother with this app unless US Weekly is your favorite reading material.”

That’s a lot of apps. Too many for some, so there are a fair amount of places you can go to get your information consolidated on the go.
  • Chicago News - $0.99
    Feeds from Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Tribune, WBBM-TV, WMAQ-TV, WLS-TV, Fox Chicago, Chicago Now, Outside.In and Chicago Weather all in one place.
  • Chicago On Air - $0.99
    Streams from more than two dozen of the city’s most popular radio stations.
  • istaverse - FREE!
    We are, of course, partial to this one. It’s the world in your hand with instant access to Chicagoist and our sister sites in the world’s greatest cities. Why bother with those other apps when we wrap it all up in a smart, snarky package for you?