Tablets now have their first exclusive newspaper in The Daily, which News Corp launched today for Apple’s iPad. It’s not a radical re-imagination of the news, but it goes a bit further with interactivity and multimedia than the existing batch of swipe-to-read apps from media giants like NPR and the New York Times.
I checked in remotely to the live video of Apple and News Corps’ joint press event, and then took a spin through the app itself. Read on for some quick impressions of The Daily.
The price is right: Despite the name, The Daily won’t be sold by the day. Instead, you can get a week for $1 or a year for $40 — a surprising price point given that News Corps’ Wall Street Journal sells for $17 per month. For further comparison, the New York Times’ upcoming paywall, which will apply to its iPad app, is rumored to cost just south of $20 per month.
The content? Different: Flipping through The Daily’s pages is more like reading a news magazine than a traditional paper. The front pages are flanked by colorful blurbs and infographics instead of text-heavy reportage, and the first edition seems mainly concerned with looking cool, rather than delivering heaps of hard information. But let’s give the editorial some time to grow, shall we?
More flourishes, please: Of course, The Daily has lots of video, but what impressed me more were the occasional animations that added pop to a story, like the image of Cairo’s Tahrir Square that zooms out to show the full scale of the protests. Let’s see more of that, and less boilerplate video.
iPad shows its age: The Daily’s main method of navigation is a carousel of top stories that you can scroll through by swiping, but the frame rate is unbecoming for an iOS device, and it’s too easy to scroll right past the article you’re trying to read. Once you get into each article, it’s like butter once again.
Not entirely offline: The Daily’s text and images download to the iPad for each edition, but switching into airplane mode left videos and audio unavailable. It’d be nice to have video caching as an option if you’re about to get on a plane.
Not completely un-social: Although the tablet app and The Daily’s home page will hide behind a pay wall, individual stories can be shared over the web for free. Sounds like News Corp is figuring out that the delivery, not the content, is what you pay for.
Hiccups: I wouldn’t expect the first tablet-only newspaper to be flawless out of the gate. Images inside the carousel view are hideously compressed, and navigating to each section takes you directly to the top story instead of the table of contents. This wouldn’t be so jarring if you didn’t get a brief glimpse of the section’s own carousel before automatically jumping into an article. Also, too much rotating between portrait and landscape modes crashed the app.
Not just for iPad (eventually): News Corp acknowledged that The Daily will eventually become available for other tablets, but it’s not clear which or when. Motorola’s Xoom is a likely candidate. Smaller tablets might have trouble with the format.