Monday, October 18, 2010

The New York Times App

I used to pay $14/month to get The New York Times on a first-generation Kindle.  In fact, I subscribed to the Kindle edition of the Times for more than a year.  It took me that long to realize the service was never going to be as good as it could be; the Kindle edition didn't include all the print content and, of course, the visual impact of the photos in grayscale was less than inspiring.

I mention all this because I hoped it would be different with the iPad.  As you may already know, the NY Times app was available for the iPad when the device launched back in April.  It's a free app but it only included a subset of the Times content, hence the name "Editor's Choice."  The Times recently upgraded the app though to include all the sections of the paper.  It's still free but the word on the street is that a paid subscription model will appear shortly.

In some respects, I've found the new Times app to be a better experience than the one I used to pay for on my Kindle.  I see that the Kindle edition that used to cost me $14/month is now $20/month.  I'd pay $20/month for the Times app but only if they add a few key features:
  1. I want the content to come to me, without having to manually download it every day.  That's one area where the Kindle still shines.  As long as I was within cell range I knew that day's paper would be on my Kindle when I opened it up each morning.  My iPad, on the other hand, is almost always connected via wifi, so there's no reason the service couldn't be automated here as well.
  2. There's no way to save an article or an entire day's paper in the app.  Even the Kindle app used to hold all the editions till I deleted them, so the iPad app needs to do the same.  I can't be sure I'll have time to read the paper every day but I want the ability to go back and see if I missed anything.
  3. This app is little more than a quick-and-dirty print-to-e conversion.   I love it that I'm getting access to more of the Times content through it, but it certainly doesn't have a rich, digital-first feel to it.  I get the impression I'm just reading the same content that appears in the print edition.  That's an important part of the equation but far from the complete solution.  Just as a boring periodic table can be made exciting through an app like The Elements, the Times needs to think about how the news they report could become much more engaging and interesting on the iPad.
I'm excited to see the Times add so much content to this app but now they need to start thinking about the user experience.  If they can address these issues they'll win me back as a paying subscriber.  For now though, I plan to take full advantage of the free service they're offering with this enhanced app.

1 comment:

  1. I agree. It is nice to have it there, though and get some of the feel of the paper in the ipad. I have been reading the WSJ on it since it came - and they have done a first class job of marrying the digital to the paper. Still using zinio for the economist and business week - and thats too much paper - not enough digital. hopefully this means we have broken through.