I’ve always wanted to like The Daily, since even before it launched back in February. Not because it’s part of Rupert Murdoch’s empire. Not because of the implications that has for what type of news it might bring, which way it might lean. But because it was and is the first iPad-only newspaper. I want it to succeed because of that concept.
I also think there’s a lot to like about The Daily. The photography is superb, the headlines are often among the cleverest around. If you’re not after in-depth, heavyweight news coverage it’s an engaging read.
But it’s also an embarrassingly bad title. Since Day 1 it has got many basic things wrong in terms of being an iPad newspaper app. It went months where the app never remembered where you left off reading. So if you popped out of reading a great article to have a quick look at a new email, your place was completely lost and you started again at the front page of an issue. Stupid. And such a simple, basic thing to get wrong – and still somehow this went uncorrected for months!
Another issue that has plagued The Daily since its launch is slow loading times for new issues. In fact, not just for new issues – even for smaller updates throughout the day or for issues that had already been downloaded. For months the title suffered with ridiculously long load times, upwards of 30 seconds. Eventually there were updates to address this – load times were made a little faster, but there was and still is (lots of) room for improvement.
A few weeks ago The Daily was updated for compatibility with the new iOS 5 Newsstand smart folder. The most useful touted purpose of Newsstand is this one:
Then, as new issues become available, Newsstand automatically updates them in the background — complete with the latest covers. It’s kind of like having the paper delivered to your front door. Only better.
That sounds great – but in practice it’s not working anywhere near as nicely as advertised, and of course leading the way in not delivering on this is The Daily. The Daily’s version of the above is more like having the paper delivered to my neighbor’s house three blocks away with 3/4 of its pages missing.
It’s nearly a month since The Daily was updated for Newsstand and as of today it appears to download absolutely zero in the background. Every time you launch the app it greets you first by saying it is ‘looking for’ an issue. Huh? Why does it need to look for anything? That issue is meant to have been taken care of, automatically downloaded and all that good stuff.
Then after several seconds of ‘looking’ the screen changes to the one shown at the top of this post. ‘The Daily is being delivered’. Yeah right. And another 10+ seconds of your life are wasted. Then when it finally hits a screen that looks like we have real-live iPad newspaper action, you start trying to tap on interesting looking article thumbnails. But they don’t respond, because as comical and ridiculous as it may sound, at this point your issue is STILL not downloaded. In fact, a quick glance at the little pie chart status at the top of the screen shows the issue is barely over 1% downloaded.
The Daily has been in the App Store for over 9 months now. It has been updated for Newsstand for nearly a month now. By all accounts it had over $30 million poured into it before it was even released and has a staff of over one hundred.
All of which begs the question, what the fuck? Does nobody among those hundred+ staffers notice that The Daily’s load times still suck? That after nearly a month it miserably fails to do any sort of background downloading whatsoever? That after over nine months it still has this basic, frustrating, drive-readers-away type issue?
I still want to like The Daily. I’m still a subscriber. But it’s hard. It’s especially hard when it seems more and more obvious that those running The Daily have got to either be absolutely clueless about how bad their title is or they just don’t give a toss.