22nd September 2019

A review of the ZNBC news app

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The ZNBC application in the Google Play Store gives daily updates on the ZNBC news, keeping users informed easily. It has a sleek design that makes navigation to different news sections effortless and it displays it in a nice, easy-to-read format. So let’s put this application under the microscope and see what we get.

First off, allow me to give credit to the developer group behind this application, Worklance. It was started by a young Zambian entrepreneur, Joseph Mulenga Chipimo, who is also a programmer, so I really admire the effort put in to make an app that is needed very much by the general public.

Features

The ZNBC app gives updates of news throughout the day. So you don’t have to open the app to check what the latest news is. When you open the app, it previews each news article with a heading, a short paragraph, a supporting image and a when the news was posted. Once you click a news article, it opens up to give you more story on the news and at the bottom, an option to continue reading more of the news from the ZNBC website:

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And on the right-side of the toolbar, the section of you mobile device just below the time and battery icons, it gives you an option of marking that news as a “favorite” ,so that you can collect the news you want to read again.

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What’s worth mentioning is that even if you are offline, not using WiFi or internet bundles, you can still read the news that was updated from the previous time. It actually stores news items in the form of a list, from the most recent to less. This is a very good feature because for anyone conscious of their internet bundle usage, you would love an app that did not require the internet all the time. This app works as good offline.

On the left-side of the toolbar is a burger-like icon that releases the navigation drawer. The drawer helps you scroll through and view the different news sections and other additional features. It tells you how many unread news items you have for that particular news sections as well. The user is able to choose what category of news they wish to view:

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Some of the additional features include: a section that contains all the news you favorite/starred to view later, news that was updated within the last 24 hours, a section where you can search for other news/podcasts/feeds using a URL, and a section that lets you watch a live news stream (unfortunately the news stream is from SKY News).

One section I particularly like is the ‘switch theme’ which lets you choose what type of theme you wish the app to be in:

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Under the settings, the user is able to choose whether or not they want notifications and if they do, if they want a custom ringtone attached to that notification. That gives a lot of power to the user because some Android phones don’t give the user the feature of turning an app’s notifications on or off. So it’s good that this app lets you decide. With several apps on your phone, notifications can become annoying, to say the least. The ‘message store’ section helps the user cleanup outdated news by deleting news articles older than a specific time. So if you don’t want it to keep news articles that are a month old you can set that there:

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The Good

This app packs loads of news that we would probably have to turn to the newspaper or turn on the radio or television to search for. It gives the user that ability to read news on and offline and does not use that much data because most of the news is in text and the images (you can actually set it to only load images when there is WiFi under the synchronization item under settings).

It gives you frequent updates/notifications daily of the news as it unfolds in real life so you are always up-to-date. It uses Google’s current design outline to make the user experience effortless and simplistic. Another good thing is that this app does not have a single advertising block feature in it. Adverts affect the user-experience in my view but a means for the developers to make money which is understandable. So it is nice to see an app that does not let its users suffer with adverts.

The bad

There is not a lot wrong with this app, with what it was intended to do, but there are some areas which I would want it to improve. Every app has its own custom notification icon so that when the user’s phone receives it, the user knows from which app it came from. When receiving a notification/news update from this app, all the user gets currently is a white block on the status bar (where we see the time and battery icon). Making a custom notification for this app will help users know which app’s notification it is. Something some users might notice is that under the home section, the title in the toolbar (below the status bar) is called “about: blank”, as if the developers forgot to give it a name. This is relatively a small issue, but again a basic feature of any app.

Another issue is that under the “explore” section, it would be nice if it gave suggestions of podcasts or videos of Zambian news or even radio stations rather than inputting a URL yourself. Also, having live-stream news of another news corporation is a bonus for the user but takes the user’s interest away from the news the app is supposed to be giving. If the live-stream is ZNBC news then perfect but it cannot be showing SKY News when the app is for ZNBC!

The last issue which is that this app is hardly known by a lot of people. I mean, “Hello, ZNBC have an app!” Every household tunes in to the news at 19 hours so I am sure they would want to follow it throughout the day as well. Instead of visiting their website which may take up more time, why not have it on your mobile phone? It’s a perfect companion for anyone who is into Zambian news. What’s more shocking is that it only passed the 500-download mark so not too many people know about it. I hope ZNBC can try to advertise it to help them do what they do better which is cover the news and broadcast it and that we as Zambians show support to a Zambian-based mobile application

Conclusion:

This app gets it right in every single area. It fulfills its purpose very well, has an elegant design to match, is user-friendly and does not consume too much data. It gives the user loads to play with in terms of customization and lets you read news whilst offline which is an incredible bonus. For that, I will give it 4 stars because there is room for improvement in the advertising area and number of people using the app. And my message to those reading is to give it a try, you might just like it.

Review done by Wilfred Mulenga