'The Daily' iPad App Is A Padloid

The Daily is a new iPad app created by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation.

For the next two weeks, you can look at it for free, so I tried it. The first thing I noticed is that the app itself is only about 48 Mb in size; this is much more manageable than the half-gigabyte size of magazine apps like Wired.

The Daily provides a lot of content for $40 per year; the pricing is extremely aggressive. I liked the interactive features, like the crossword puzzle and the picture sets; these features make you more comfortable in exploring ads like the one for Virgin airlines. One feature that should be altered is the "splash" screen that starts the app; the user should be able to return the spot where you left the app.

I thought that the interface was easy to understand (the "how to" section should probably be made to disappear after the first week). I was never completely puzzled about how to use it (which was not the case with some other magazine apps). I did find one bug; to bring up a photo set, you can turn your iPad from vertical to horizontal (which is a good idea). However, after flipping though five pictures, I turn the iPad back to vertical, and find that I have advanced five pages.

I'm also surprised that the application makes you wait while a new issue is being downloaded. It would be preferable if the app put up something for you to read as soon as possible while waiting; for example, the app could present a list of new stories an photo sets.

Also, the app seems to put up the "New issue being downloaded" screen, but most of the information seems to stay the same. I think it would be very confusing to try to update major articles while keeping the version of the "newspaper" the same. For example, the "cover" story refers to a million protesters in Egypt, the table of contents entry for the story refers to a million protesters, but the updated article refers to "almost two million" protesters.

Take a look at the video below, which gives you a visual tour of the The Daily interface.


(Rupert Murdoch's The Daily )

"New times demand new journalism,” Mr. Murdoch said on stage at the Guggenheim Museum in Manhattan before an audience of reporters, employees and advertising partners...

Mr. Murdoch said he was targeting a generation of consumers who did not read national newspapers or watch television news, but did consume media. This generation, he said, expected “content tailored to their specific interests to be available anytime, anywhere.”

He added, “I’m convinced that in the tablet era, there’s room for a fresh and robust voice.”

All in all, I was impressed with the app's interface and presentation. I think that it will be a pleasure for most iPad owners to use, even though it doesn't really try to push the boundaries like Richard Branson's Project app for iPad. Project is a fascinating effort to re-imagine magazines for the iPad, and it takes a lot more chances than The Daily does.

In reading through the celebrity gossip section, I was reminded of the padloids from John Varley's 1992 novel Steel Beach; the word is a combination of "newspad" (borrowed from Clarke) and "tabloid".

My office was in Mall Twelve, level thirty-six, 120 degrees. It's in the editorial offices of The News Nipple, the padloid with the largest circulation in Luna.

Via NYTimes.

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