So The Daily – the first ever iPad-only newspaper – finally launched yesterday. I say finally because it has got lots of coverage in the tech blog space (including here) in the weeks and months leading up to its launch.
I think it deserved a lot of the hype – regardless of whether it’s a big success or a huge flop – just because it is a genuine first and Rupert Murdoch and News Corp are definitely putting a lot into it. $30 million invested just in the development stage leading up to its release, a large and very experienced staff, drawn largely from the ranks of well established and large media organizations – and because again, succeed or fail, they’re certainly taking a big swing with this title.
I’m already a big fan and follower of newspaper and magazine titles on the iPad, so I’m as keen as anyone to see what The Daily is really made of. I installed the app as fast as I was able to yesterday, which was not as fast as I would’ve liked due to constant power outages in my area throughout the day yesterday. I did get it installed eventually though and have been browsing it a fair bit. Hit the break for a few more screenshots and some very early impressions of this notable new title …
Here are my very early, and very general, thoughts on The Daily, in no particular order:
This is a tagline for The Daily that is shown near the top of the web page for it:
New times demand new journalism
Apart from being an iPad-only title, I’m not quite sure how well this line fits The Daily. The content and style of writing don’t strike me as unique in any way so far.
Installing the App
You have to agree to a new set of App Store terms and conditions when you install the app. There has been a new section added that covers In-App Subscriptions. It’s not a very long section and lets you know that: subscriptions are non-refundable and auto-renewing (though you can cancel the auto-renew).
The app is free for its first two weeks – thanks to a sponsorship from Verizon (Boy are they getting in tight with Apple these days). After two weeks it will be 99 cents a week or $39.99 for a year’s subscription. That works out to around 14 cents or 11 cents a day, respectively.
This is the first title to be allowed to offer In-App Subscription, and I’d say for what the title offers that’s quite a reasonable price point.
No great shocks here so far. The Daily is not heavy on heavyweight, in-depth articles. I haven’t seen any lengthy, in-depth articles and don’t really expect to. Its content mix leans toward the light and airy style – some photo-heavy, text light articles, a big section covering celebrity news and gossip, and so on.
I’m still getting to know the paper, but it’s safe to say this is not aimed at being a rival for The New York (or London) Times.
There’s no Technology section – which seems a big miss to me.
Nice Little Touches
It asks to use your location and to send you notifications right away – I’m glad to have it do both things, and like that right from first launch the app shows me local weather status on its main page.
The page that shows you how to get around The Daily is well done. The Intro video ‘The Daily in Action’ is especially good.
There’s also a very nice video overview of each daily issue’s content. You can tap the screen during the video to jump out to one of the stories mentioned in it.
There’s a good amount of multimedia content in the first couple issues – including some cool Harlem Globetrotters instructional videos in the Sports section.
Even though the first two weeks are sponsored by Verizon, there are already some full page ads in the app, including a great movie trailer for the upcoming Rango with Johnny Depp.
It’s very slow loading, even when launched from the Multitasking Bar.
It automatically downloads a new issue each morning, which is fine – but this is a little slow as well. It would be even nicer if it just added new content in the background, or incrementally as you open it each time.
Today it has told me twice that it is downloading a new issue – once first thing this morning and again mid-afternoon. So either it ‘forgot’ that it had already done this, or it is requiring another new download for just some bits added during the day. Either way, that’s lame.
UPDATE: It’s doing it a third time while I went to check something in the app late this afternoon. Each time it is causing a good 30 second delay in opening the app. This is ugly.
It almost never remembers where I left off reading when I go out and back into the app. This is its worst fault so far – as this is a big timewaster in having to navigate back to an individual article each time.
It doesn’t always show the same content in portrait and landscape modes. I’d much prefer if it did.
I find some of its graphic elements on pages misleading – for example there’s a blue arrow at the bottom right of some pages. To me, this would generally mean either that I can tap it to reach some content or that its an indicator that this is a multi-page article. Neither is true – so I’m left wondering what the heck the arrow is there for.
There’s no search function within the app, and no way to contact or chat with article authors.
More to Come
I’m very much still just getting to know The Daily. I’ll be reading it every day and often, and will come back with a full review when I’ve spent a lot more time with it.
In the meantime, I’d love to hear what you all think of it as well. Please share your thoughts in the comments.
You can find The Daily in the App Store now, and it’s a free app for these first two weeks.