The first iPad exclusive daily newspaper — known simply as The Daily — has now launched, along with Apple’s new option for customers to pay for subscriptions within an application itself. I’ve downloaded and read the first two issues, and here’s my take.
The Daily certainly makes use of the iPad’s multimedia capabilities, and largely in a way that doesn’t feel gimmicky. Full-screen pictures look great and there are plenty of videos and even a few “live” Twitter feeds. There’s a “carousel” allowing users to flick through previews of the pages, though the total content is slim enough that simply going from page to page in order isn’t a major chore.
There are a few quirks that need to be worked out, though. For example, the Daily uses a system common in other newspaper apps by which the text of some stories only appears in one orientation, and a picture gallery appears when you rotate the screen. Unfortunately, at the moment, flicking through the gallery and then rotating the screen back to text drops the reader on the last page of the story, meaning they have to flick backwards to read it.
From an editorial point, the newspaper is as American-centric (and big city-centric) as you might have expected. From a technical standpoint, the multimedia sports coverage is excellent, but given the timing, is inevitably dominated by the Super Bowl build up.
One of the key selling points is that, as opposed to simply rewriting new agency copy or trimming down stories from other News Corporation titles, the Daily does produce original news stories. The most high-profile are reports from the protests in Cairo by on-the-spot correspondents, while there are also some genuinely investigative and original pieces such as a report on Amish farmers running smuggling operations to illegally sell unpasteurized milk to New York City foodies.
Some of the other “exclusives” are disappointing: a much touted video interview with Gabrielle Giffords turns out to be a clip from early January in which she touts the iPad, which comes off as exploitative.
Outside of the news and editorial sections, things are very lightweight, giving the overall impression that the Daily is the New York Post on its best behavior. There is a neat section in which a celebrity recommends five favorite iPad apps, which suits the concept of the newspaper well.
Advertising will be a key to financial success, making another “bug” a potential problem. There are several full page, multimedia ads, but these are not loaded with the rest of the newspaper and instead load as and when the user gets to the relevant page. It soon becomes clear that if you come to a seemingly-blank page, you’ve got a few seconds to simply flick on by without ever seeing the ad.
Another issue, which is likely a teething problem, is that the people behind the Daily don’t seem to have found a clear answer to the question of whether it is a newspaper of a “live” news site. At the moment, there’s a token effort involving a scrolling news ticker that’s updated during the day, but this doesn’t really offer anything of value.
Altogether, the Daily is absolutely not a replacement for a full-on newspaper: the articles do a good job of giving depth without being a chore to read, but there’s no real attempt at breadth: news junkies certainly won’t consider themselves up to date after reading through. Still, if customers get past the hurdle of paying for content, $40 certainly looks affordable for a year’s subscription.
International readers may like to know that although the Daily is currently only available in the US, it is possible to download it and — it appears — to subscribe. To do this you’ll need to:
- sign out of your iTunes account;
- switch to the US store;
- attempt to download a free app, such as the Daily;
- when prompted create a new account, choosing the no payment option; and
- create an account using a secondary e-mail address and making up a US postal address and number.
Once this is done, you should be able to sign back in to your usual account, then sync the app to your iPad as normal, with each day’s edition arriving as designed. The newspaper is free for the first two weeks, but in the settings I was able to bring up the option to subscribe after this, with the price listed in my currency (UK pounds) at what looks like a straight conversion.
The one downside to this is that it appears you may have to switch to your “US” account to download and install updates to the app itself.