Livestand From Yahoo!

Livestand From Yahoo!

Yahoo!’s living magazine app just about lives for another day

Anyone who has used Flipboard will know that it provides an effective means of cramming the latest news regarding the topics that matter in your insular world, all in a slick and tidy interface that makes any non-iPad owning friends who chance a glance turn a rather rich shade of envy-tinged green. Livestand does its best to emulate that style, but falls a little short in a number of key departments.

The app champions itself as a ‘living magazine’ in which you browse content through your account portal, and everything is presented on your screen as if you were browsing through an actual magazine – but one with integrated movies, zoom-able images and content that you can dictate on the fly. Upon launching the app, you must log in via Facebook or an existing Yahoo! account, after which you’re bombarded with subjects from a floating library – tap on one in order to bring up a separate list of contents that you can search your way through at your leisure. You can also bookmark stories of interest to read later on, although the app certainly doesn’t display enough ambition to enable these to be automatically synced to your desktop Yahoo! account or be compatible with iCloud.

Logging in and activating the account works reasonably easily. However, when taking the ‘Facebook’ option, we were asked to verify the account by entering a Yahoo! password which, admittedly, we didn’t have at that time, but there was no option to back-peddle, blow out Facebook, and log in with a newly created Yahoo! account without ditching our original profile and starting a new one. Then there were the instructions. Livestand presents itself as original, and somehow ‘new’ and ‘revolutionary’. While this may be a concession to new users who haven’t experienced newsfeed apps before, it really doesn’t stand up against the likes of Flipboard, Zite or Editions. The hand-holding approach taken by the app via the built-in tutorials takes up a great deal of time and space, to the point of at times being rather intrusive.

The interface itself is functional on a basic level, but ultimately unimpressive. The effects that occur when tapping on a topic seem a little cheap, and make the app look like it was created in iMovie. It is also slow and quite clunky, with some pages taking unnecessarily long to load, causing you to jab at the screen in frustration to back-up, which only serves to confuse the app so that it takes even longer to operate.

The app presents some quite interesting content from a range of sites (though all curated by Yahoo!) and keeps the experience nice and personal – Livestand serves up a daily helping of weather, stocks, horoscopes, etc, which you can then add to your own library for easy access. It also supports up to four unique profiles, so that all members of the average family can log in and get their daily dollop of essentials. Given that most iPad owning households share their device, this is an intelligent touch.

Despite the flourishes of inspiration sprinkled throughout, there are also numerous causes for frustration. The sources of Livestand’s content are too contrived, and you’re given no freedom to pull in what you want. It’s just Yahoo! sites, and any additional material that is pushed on the platform from third parties, which gives the impression of indoctrination rather than a welcoming interface to include whatever you want.

Livestand is currently only available to American iTunes account holders, but will hit Europe in the coming months. Unless a revamp is conducted and more varied content introduced, you’re probably better off checking out the competition in the meantime.

Rated 3 out of 5

Gives Yahoo! devotees an alternative to the browser-based services, but falls behind more innovative competition.