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The Wall Street Journal: There's a free app for that

Forget the $100-per-year Web edition of the Journal. The company charges nothing for news delivered on the iPhone's e-paper route. Plus, you get video and radio.

Extra! Extra! You don't have to pay extra to get Wall Street Journal content on your iPhone.

Good news for news junkies and anyone who can still stomach reading about the stock market: The Wall Street Journal just took the wraps off an eponymous iPhone app, offering news, video, and even podcasts. Better still, there's no charge for the app--or the content.

That may surprise Journal subscribers who pay a little more than $100 per year for unrestricted Web access. But it puts the app on an even footing with The New York Times and USA Today apps, among others, which also provide news at no charge.

The Journal app bears a striking resemblance to the Times app, with a five-icon toolbar that spans the bottom of the screen and a banner ad just above that. (Hey, somebody has to foot the bill.)

But this isn't just the Times repackaged. For one thing, the Journal app seems to load much faster than the notoriously pokey Times, and it sports prominent buttons for Video and WSJ Radio.

The latter consists of a two-minute podcast that starts streaming immediately when you tap through. But it lacks a time stamp, so there's no way to know without listening if it's any newer than the last podcast you played.

As for the videos: they flat-out refused to play, though we'll cut the app some slack on its first day; no doubt looky-loos have stampeded the Journal's servers.

Other amenities include a button to save articles for future reference and another to e-mail them to friends. Plus, you can customize the toolbar with any of 16 icons, giving you one-tap access to sections like Tech, Opinion, and Barron's.

Thus, despite a few early kinks, the WSJ app is sure to delight the business crowd--especially considering that they don't have to tap their slush funds to get it.