Review: The Times of London for iPad

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The Times of London iPad app

The Times of London for iPad is the latest app for a big-name newspaper to hit the iPad App Store.  It’s also another high-profile title that has chosen to go with a very hefty price for its iPad edition – &16.99 for each 28 days worth of issues, with the Sunday Times not included.

Is it worth over $200 a year for its iPad edition?  Pumped full of custom-designed, take maximum advantage of this powerful new medium goodness?  No, not even close …

The Times of London on iPad


The initial download package for the app itself is just 3.4MB – and that’s because it installs with no issues downloaded.  When I installed it last night it had issues available for 5/28 through to June 5.  Each one takes a minute or so to download and I really don’t see why the install doesn’t at least load the current day to get you started.

Does It Feel Like a Custom iPad Edition?

The Times of London for iPad

Nope.  Far from it. It’s not quite as bad as Newsweek for iPad – which is basically a poorly designed PDF viewer – but it’s far away from being a title that exploits the possibilities of an iPad edition.  It feels flat and static right from the home page – just as a simple, quick example it has no movement on its front page at all (no rotating feature content as USA Today for the iPad does or anything similar).

The page shown above – with the EasyJet article – is the closest you’ll get to animation, a static drawing. 

Throughout the app, there is very, very little multimedia content.  I think I spotted around a half dozen videos in browsing two days’ editions – and one of them had completely screwed up sound.   I’ve found zero interactive animations or audio files. 

Even in places where it seems very easy to throw in some interaction, there is none.  For instance, on its weather pages there is no way to tell it your location and see local conditions; no ability to choose to see different sorts of views, no choices to make at all.  Just a flat and fairly boring / outdated looking set of pages.

The Times of London app on iPad

It has ads – relatively few in the two issues I looked at – but these are also pretty lame.  On an IBM ad with a URL in it, the link is not live. 


Does It Follow Good iPad Design Standards?

Again, no.

When an article spans multiple screens, you cannot scroll down to read through it – you can only swipe left and right, which is non-standard.

There is no home button or table of contents.

The controls remain constantly visible in a rather ugly bottom bar – no tap the page to bring them up and hide them.  The controls also feature Go Back button as well as a Rewind to Beginning sort of button – in playing with them, I cannot see any difference between the two.

It doesn’t remember where you were when you exited the app.

Is It Social?

Not at all.

There is not a single ‘sharing’ element within the app at all.  No share by email or via any social networks.  No ability to comment on articles or email authors.

No search.  No ability to bookmark pages.

Is It Stable?

You may have guessed the answer by now.  No it’s not.  Within my first half hour of using the app, I had two crashes back to the home screen.  On both occasions, when I went back into the app it had ‘forgotten’ which issues I had downloaded and I had to download them again to see any content.

It is sometimes poor in its response – requiring multiple taps to make a known action happen on the page or even with control buttons.

Any Saving Graces?

Yes.  It’s a quality newspaper – so the content is good.  The photos are very good. 


The breadth of its coverage is good.


The Sports section is especially strong.


Is It Worth Its Price of Admission?

As stated at the outset, No. No way. 

I just don’t see who is willing to pay $200 a year for a single source of news on the iPad.  And even if there are enough people out there willing to pay anything like that price for an iPad edition, they should definitely be demanding a real iPad version for their money.  The Times may have a good argument for its cover and subscription prices in print form – but they’ve got none as far as I can see in this new digital form.

Nothing that says ‘we’re a step ahead’ or that they’re able to deliver this content in new and exciting ways to embrace the medium and back up their high price demands.

You can find The Times of London in the App Store now, priced at $16.99 for each 28 days worth of issues – and you have to fork out for your first 28 days to get the app.

*** This app was independently purchased by the post author in the iPad App Store. For further information regarding our site’s review policies, please see the "About" page. 

Patrick Jordan

Founder and Editor in Chief of iPad Insight. Husband, father to a lovely daughter, Commander of the Armies of the North, dog lover (especially Labs), Austinite, former Londoner, IT consultant, huge sports nut, iPad and mobile tech blogger, mobile apps junkie.

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18 thoughts on “Review: The Times of London for iPad”

  1. It's even worse than this review – the paper advertised this as all that's in the paper edition and more but many articles are not included. Indeed over half the Saturday edition is missing. I asked their customer services for a refund and got a brush off as areply. I respect the attempt to charge for content but this is a rip off and should lead to failure.

  2. Hello,

    My name's Graham and I work for News International. I've just been reading your blog and wanted to let you know that
    we've delivered an update to Apple to fix the crashing issue. You should receive this download early this week.

    Other fixes in the update include:

    'Remember my place': you can now return to the last page you looked at before quitting the application.

    'Clear Cache': in Times settings you can also delete downloaded editions of The Times to free up disk space on your iPad.

    'Timezone setting': the edition time is now displayed in UK time only to avoid any confusion for customers in different time zones.

    All your feedback is useful and I'll be passing it all back. In the meantime, please do report any further problems you have.

    You can Tweet us at: @New_TheTimes or email.

    1. Hi Graham – interesting to see you here. Glad to hear there's an update in the works to fix the crashing issue – that is a pretty big bug. The other additions are nice but minor. I think it needs much, much more to feel anything like a real iPad edition. I'd suggest looking at USA Today. I'll review it soon – but it is a great example of how to do things right on the iPad. There are more live and interactive elements on just its front page than there are in 10 issues of The Times.

      I don't think iPad readers are going to accept just chucking your print edition into the App Store.

      1. Hi Patrick,

        We certainly acknowledge that we didn't get everything right for launch, but we're working 'round the clock to improve the app. We are continuing to work on new features and content for the application including supplements, games, listings and the things that people who have purchased the app have mentioned will make the experience of our application better, like: bookmarks and navigation tips, for example.

        I’m passing all this information back and we will keep working hard to make the application the best it can be.

        1. Good to hear there's so much work going into it. I'm amazed that interactive and multimedia elements aren't high on the list though. It really needs those to feel like a real iPad edition.

        2. Hi Graham,

          I am a paper subscriber to the paper edition of the Times and it is unreasonable to ask us to pay twice for the same content. Why can't the Times replicate the WSJ and provide the iPAD issue free to paper subscribers, just as we have free access to the web? It would be a shame to surrender my paper subscription just so I can read the iPAD edition on the train,

          1. Hi Gareth,

            I get The Times delivered to my house from Monday to Friday and I have access to the website and the iPad edition for free. Do you have a Times+ subscription?

  3. The ipad would be perfect if it had a built in webcam! I am surprised this has been omitted given that it is largely a communication tool. I hope they add this into the next generation.

  4. What is a "real iPad edition"? I'd say for a lot of people, judging by the app store comments, it's being able to read the newspaper on the iPad wherever you are without having to go to the newsagents or have it delivered and have to put the paper in the recycling bin at the end. By and large that is what it delivers, though criticism of the lack of a full edition is fair comment. It's crashes etc also drive me to distraction and they really should not have put it out before that was sorted.

    But when it works I am overjoyed to be able to read my newspaper without even getting out of bed (ok I get up rather late!). It's much easier to read on a crowded tube train (or at least it will be when people get bored of the thing and stop asking 'ooh is that an ipad' all the time!)

    And I think you are dead wring on the or price. £9.99 for something that would cost £28 in the shops, of which Apple gets 30pc? And there may be no printing presses involved but bandwidth ain't free. Think you are being a bit mean. Still, proof will be in the ongoing sales pudding I guess.

    1. For me, a 'real' iPad edition is something much more interactive, something that has much more multimedia content, something that is updated much more frequently than its print counterpart. Something that embraces the powerful new medium that the iPad is. If just being able to read it on the iPad and not having to dispose of it afterwards were the only goals, then why not just use the website?
      USA Today has never been a paper I cared for much, because it's light on content, feels cartoonish to me – but its iPad edition (which I'll post a review on soon) is tremendous, everything The Times isn't. For starters, it is updated throughout the day and night. As I've said above, there are more interactive elements on its front page alone than in any 10 issues of The Times. It uses my location, shows me my local weather – and lets me tell it if I want to see weather for some other location. It feels like a digital title. I don't believe it's good enough to present an iPad edition that feels as if it is still designed to be printed.
      The best iPad newspapers and magazines – and the ones that will be able to justify high prices – will be the ones that really offer something built for this new medium.

  5. Why not use the website? Because I cannot quickly find the simply packaged experience a newspaper represents there. If anything it is the website that should be more interactive and whizz-bang. I come to something like The Times app because I want to READ content and, while I wouldn’t say no to the odd fancy graphic and video, it is actually the informed writing of people I have come to appreciate and follow that is the key and, frankly, to clutter that up with a huge amount of other stiff gets in the way of that pleasure.

    I am not decrying your desire for more fireworks, and there’s plenty of great apps for that. But the ipad is not just about that. Some of the best apps on the iPad, which I am using to type this, are the simplest. They enable me to do things quickly and easily with maximum flexibility. That is what The Times app does (with aforementioned limitations). It enables me to get my WRITTEN news fix quickly.

    1. Fair enough on wanting to just read content. It's a quality paper with some great coverage and writing. My desire isn't so much for fireworks, it's more just for embracing what this medium allows an app to do.
      Again, just as one quick example, the round the clock updates. I'm a big sports fan and with USA Today I can open the app at 11:00PM and see that night's results in major US sports – I don't have to wait to download tomorrow's issue. The same goes for all major, breaking headlines.
      To me that's not fireworks, that's the basics in this medium. If the printed edition of the paper was 12 hours behind its near rivals, I'd venture to guess they'd far outsell it – so why accept the lack of updates in this edition?
      USA Today (and other iPad titles) lets me easily share a good article with friends, via email or leading social networks. That's another 'basic' for me in this medium – and one that would help the paper gain followers. It just seems such an obvious miss.
      Being able to choose to see the weather where I'm at right on the front page, or choose which sport I want to see latest scores from right on the front page – these are things that embrace what this medium can do.
      I don't think these are fireworks, they're not 'flashy' features, they are just doing what you should do with an iPad edition.
      The Times app could pass for a duplicate of the print edition right now – it does everything but leave ink on my hands.

  6. A recent version seems a lot better. If you compare the price to the shelf price, then this is a bargain. It is the way newspapers are going and give it a few months and you will be able to purchase indidivdual copies direct from itunes. They are adding more content to the times version – but i do wish it had a copy of the sunday times.

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