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:
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.
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.