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Review: A week of reading The Daily

I’ve been using The Daily every day since it launched last week. The new iPad only app is being touted as a futurist newspaper. News Corp chairman Rupert Murdock has reportedly spent $30 million building the app (and the newsroom) from the ground up. It’s a huge undertaking and there’s been a huge buzz about the app for months. Here is my take after some of the buzz has worn off:

General observations:
The “newspaper” isn’t much of a newspaper – it’s really laid out like a magazine. The news section is a lighter than other options. Content depth is more akin to USA Today than say The New York Times. It gives me the brief on what’s going on in the world, but lacks the in-depth report of The New York Times. The scope of stories is also lacking compared to other mainstream news apps. Granted they have a small staff, but you’d think they could compensate by adding more wire news.

The A&E section is heavy on tabloid gossip and photos. The sports section is the largest, but not being a sports fan, I tend to skip it entirely.

What I like:
They have spent a great deal of time in the layout of each page. It really looks like a top quality magazine. Excellent typography, pullout quotes and photos to give you a quick feel of the story.

I love the interactivity of it. Lots of stories have photos, infographics or video. It is much more immersive than other apps.

Ads are usually full page and easily skipped by swiping through them before they full load. Those I do spend time with are interactive.

I like that it can be read offline. Once I’ve downloaded the content at home, I can open the app later and read the content even if I don’t have internet access. Not many other news apps do that. It can take several seconds (or minutes) to download all the video, photos, graphics, but once down they’re there for later.

Hoping they’ll improve:
By far the start up process is horrible. From “clicking” the app until the index screen (a carousel of page thumbnails) takes 45 seconds to a minute and a half even with a decent wifi connection. The animated transition between the splash screen and the “Downloading the most recent…” screen transitions to black and often hangs leaving me wondering if the app is even going to load.

There is no way to adjust the text size. It’s pretty clear, they want as much control over the layout is possible, so allowing the reader adjust the font size would wreak havoc on the layout.

There are times I want to tweet an interesting quote. While I can tweet from the app, I can’t copy and paste anything.

Thumbnails are sluggish. As I mentioned, the main navigation is via a carousel of page thumbnails. It can be sluggish and the thumbnails are often highly pixelated.

Some days, like this morning, the app just won’t load. It gets the to downloading new content part and crashes.

Summary
I like where this is going and give props to News Corp for taking a risk and trying something different. It’s a bit rough right now but I anticipate things will get smoother in future releases. The Daily is going to run $.99/week after next week. Personally, I’m going to wait for their next release and see how many of the issues are resolved before I commit to a subscription.

Community Comments

#1 Randy Glasbergen
February/9/2011
@ 5:14 am

I agree with Alan’s review completely. Despite some shortcomings, The Daily is becoming part of my daily routine. My only serious criticism is difficulty launching the app…frequently crashes while launching…sometimes I can’t launch The Daily unless I reboot my iPad first. If this is a common problem, I’m sure they’ll fix it soon with an update. Don’t know if the syndicates have been very aggressive about a partnership with The Daily, but some comics would be a nice addition. (They publish horoscopes and crossword puzzles, why no comics?!?)

#2 Dan Thompson
February/9/2011
@ 7:48 am

I read it for a couple days and then stopped…I was really excited about it… I really liked it on a lot of levels, but there really wasn’t a lot of content, no comics, and the sports pages and pick your teams pages were slim…but it’s a start and it will improve…but for now…not for me.

#3 Randy Glasbergen
February/9/2011
@ 9:22 am

If you’re looking for more genuine news content, I recommend the Wall Street Journal iPad app. Some interactivity, but less than The Daily. But more hard news and opinion, fewer photos of Fergie and The Kardashians.

#4 Alan Gardner
February/9/2011
@ 10:30 am

fewer photos of Fergie and The Kardashians.

That sold me right there.

I waffle on whether I should subscribe. Like I mentioned, I love the offline ability of it (I don’t have a 3G iPad) that I haven’t found in other news apps. $40/year is pretty cheap – but since I could care less about sports half the content is worthless to me.

#5 Randy Glasbergen
February/11/2011
@ 10:49 am

The Daily has released a software update that seems to have fixed the problem of crashing on start up. Launching is more reliable now and much faster.

#6 Alan Gardner
February/11/2011
@ 10:56 am

I did the update too, but I’ve come to the conclusion that there isn’t enough content to warrant a subscription.

I think it’s a good first effort and I’ll follow its development, but I’ve decided to wait to see where it goes before subscribing.

#7 Dan Thompson
February/11/2011
@ 11:20 am

The other thing that made me dislike “The Daily” was, I think on the 3rd day there was an illustration drawn with what looked like a desktop mouse…it looked like it was drawn by a pre-schooler the green grass, bubbly looking clouds…that bummed me out as the daily reported that it costs half a million to produce this thing a week? and this is the art they’re putting into it? no thanks…I’m sure you guys remember that art.

#8 Alan Gardner
February/11/2011
@ 11:25 am

@Dan I must have missed that one. Might be one of those days the app wouldn’t load and I didn’t want to take the time to reboot my pad. :)

I’ve actually been impressed (mostly) with the art. For a device and app that has so much potential to tell a story, I really wish they’d commission an artist to create a comic or short graphic novel. I’d subscribe in a heart beat if there was a good comic in there that couldn’t be had elsewhere.

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