Frontline teams with PRX to develop iPad app

By Andrew Lapin

WGBH’s long-running documentary program Frontline is partnering with Public Radio Exchange to develop a free app for iPad users.

Billed as “the definitive documentary app,” the project is funded by a CPB grant of about $650,000 and follows apps that PRX has developed for public radio programs such as This American Life and Radiolab. Brooklyn-based developer Studio Rodrigo will collaborate on the app’s design. PRX has contracted with WGBH before, on an iPhone app for the station.

“We’ve been thinking about [the app] for so long,” Sarah Moughty, Frontline‘s assistant managing editor for digital media, told Current. “We love the tablet. We think it’s such an intimate personal experience where all the research indicates people are really absorbing long-form journalism.”

The app, planned for launch in winter or spring 2014, will be for iPads at first with potential to be adapted for Android and other platforms later on. Frontline is tracking development of the app with weekly updates on its website; last week, it explained in a blog post that building a stand-alone app rather than optimizing its website for tablet will allow the program to incorporate more complex video features.

Frontline has yet to devise the app’s features, Moughty said, but it will draw content from the COVE online video platform, which currently hosts more than 150 Frontline films for streaming on the program’s website. Like the site, the app will also incorporate additional resources from Frontline and external sources to allow for deeper dives into film topics.

The development will aim for “an enhanced viewing experience around Frontline,” Moughty said.

The program is soliciting comments from viewers via its website and Facebook page to learn what they want to see in the app.

Questions, comments, tips? lapin@current.org

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