App Review – New York Times for iPad

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The New York Times App for the iPad has been updated to include all the content found in the paper edition. Naturally, we had to give it a try.

Those of you who have used the Times App in the past may already know a few things about it. The layout was always rather newspaper-like, but it was lacking in content. Many users complained, saying that they could go to the website instead, and be presented with much more content, such as what one would find by reading the actual newspaper.

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The trimmed down iPad version was nothing more than "Editors' Picks." It was a few top stories from the day, maybe 5 or 6 from each section, if that (We actually never counted, sorry). The sections were reduced to a select few, such as Top News, Technology, Politics, etc. In this fuller version, you get 29 sections. The App is advertised as having the full daily edition. Of course we don't have a copy of the Times to make a comparison, but definitely has a lot of content, much more than "Editors' Picks."

Users can also log in with their email account (if they have registered with the Times) or can create a login through the App itself. You can still Tweet links to stories, email them or share them on Facebook. For readers who have trouble seeing small print, the font size can be scaled up, which is of course one of the major advantages to reading in a digital format.

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The App can also be set to notify you when breaking news happens. This is especially cool for when you first pick up your iPad and see the unlock screen with a notification. It also helps to ensure that the first App you launch when you grab your iPad is the New York Times.

Right now, the App is free. However, the App's page says that they will begin charging in "early 2011," and that's in line with when the Times plans to start charging for website use too. Well, money has to be made, and we can't fault them for that. On the other hand, we hope they don't charge as much as they do for the paper edition, since a lot of the costs (printing, distribution, etc) are no longer being factored in.

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Still, this App may be more important than we realize right now. It's one of the largest newspapers in the US and they are trying to recreate their newspaper on the iPad much like the Wall Street Journal has been able to do. If more newspapers can successfully pull off this sort of distribution while proving to readers that their content is worth paying for, we may finally be seeing a working model for digitally distributed news content.

The Good

This is the full newspaper. It's not a trimmed down version like the previous iteration of this App. The organization is neat and there is a slider at the bottom of each story that lets you scan through other featured stories for quick navigation between pages. Also, we like that users can scale the text to their liking.

The Bad

We feel that figuring out a payment plan will be difficult at first, especially because so many users may be used to the free content. Also, the App crashed on us about four times within the first hour or two of use. It needs some work.

The Verdict

It's looks good, but it's crash-prone. The content is still available on the New York Times website, but this will be a great App when the wrinkles are ironed out. There is probably nothing here that you can't get on the website, but it's nice to have everything neatly organized and contained within an App.  We suggest waiting a little while until some of the crash-causing bugs are worked out. 

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3 out of 5 – It shows potential, but needs some fixes. The fact that the website is still the better option brings the score down as well. Still, we look forward to seeing what the New York Times Company can do with this in the future.

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