This isn’t just a news app – it’s journalism reimagined for the new decade
Price: Free (subscription required)
Size: 64 MB
Seller: Tortoise Media Ltd
Platform: iPhone & iPad
Tortoise is an interesting and exciting new addition to the world of App Store news apps. It’s not a news aggregator – we already have a ton of those, most notably Apple News. And it isn’t a breaking news app either. Instead, Tortoise is a news service dedicated to offering careful analyses on the issues that shape our lives and world.
Part of a new wave of “slow news” services, Tortoise – which was the biggest journalism project on Kickstarter ever – now has an iOS app, a dedicated team of writers, and over 25,000 members. In the app, you’ll find thoughtful takes on news stories alongside regular and one-off features, and even audio content. The app is everything you’d expect from the service: technically competent and elegantly designed with a minimal aesthetic.
The content, however, is what’s going to sway users towards Tortoise. The service invites people to take a step back from the headlines and think about issues in the wider news at a deeper, more thoughtful level. The reporting is unbiased and dedicates itself to facts and truth. In the age of fake news, Tortoise is a refreshing counter to the scene.
Their article on “Sussexit,” for instance, includes a Tortoise-annotated copy of the official Sussex statement, highlighting words and sentences which are particularly significant given previous issues surrounding the Royals. It then goes on to break the story down even further, one piece at a time, until you have a clear picture of the whole thing.
Tortoise’s longer-form pieces include a recent nine-part series on Apple, which reports on the technology giant like it’s a country – a one-party state. In doing so, Tortoise delves deep into the inner-workings of a modern Apple, particularly under the reign of CEO Tim Cook, and offers thoughtful analysis alongside interactive timelines, pictures and documents, and historic ads. It makes for another fascinating read.
The Tortoise app indeed delivers all of this well, loading content reliably over a decent Internet connection – although it’s not possible to download stories for offline viewing, meaning users with a limited data plan should proceed with caution.
However, you can share and bookmark content, and use a tab menu to switch between different areas of Tortoise’s service. One of these, Playlist, provides access to a whole range of Tortoise podcasts so you can get your slow news fill while on the go. Another lets Tortoise members apply for attendance to “ThinkIns,” conferences and talks on different topics, sometimes including special guests. These are free for members, and you can even bring a guest of your own.
What you’ve got with Tortoise, then, is a pretty rich news service for the new decade – one for readers who are tired of quick-fire headlines and fake, questionable news stories. It’s a high-quality service, but it comes at a price.
For a year-long subscription to the content in the app, you’ll need to pay $102/£100 yearly or $10/£10 per month. Sign up as a full-fledged member via the Tortoise website and you’ll be looking at even more. It’s worth noting that although these fees are relatively high for an app, they’re pretty reasonable in comparison to old-fashioned newspaper subscriptions. If you’re the sort of person who cares deeply about where your news comes from, this service is a great option to consider.
Tortoise also has special offers for under-30s and, for a limited time, is offering free access for students. Each membership level includes a set number of tickets for ThinkIns and unrestricted access to the service’s content.