Whatever your feelings on Rupert Murdoch, you have to admit he keeps his finger on the pulse. Last week, he released the first issue of The Daily, a subscription-based news magazine exclusive to tablets. Here's why you should check it out...and also why it might be another not so ready "next great thing".
The app purports to offer "over 100 pages of original content every single day of the year", but its biggest selling point turns out to be its slick design. Most of the story navigation and gallery browsing is done with a horizontal flick of the finger. Overall there's a good balance of bonuses like 360 degree panoramas, embedded news videos and exclusive interviews. Make no mistake, this is an entirely new way to present daily news, and in that it is very successful.
Some galleries and additional features are accessed by turning the iPad vertical -- a nice way to add in extras without adding bulk. This is sometimes utilized to present a full-screen image, with the story as the vertical-accessible part; this design feature neatly establishes the daily as more "magazine" than "news".
On the downside, the news that is being presented is sometimes lacking. Reviews on iTunes are fairly evenly divided between 1 and 5 stars, with reviewers lamenting the lack of substance of stories, citing gossip columns, articles with only a general sketch of world events and a lack of a technology section. There's also no table of contents or indication, while reading, of what section you're in; if you click away from something, you have to re-scroll through content to return to your place.
It's also interesting to note that there are no outside links embedded within articles, and there's often no way to share news content contained in the app. While on one hand it's a good thing that The Daily isn't just a direct copy of a print newspaper's content, it's also not yet trying to play nice with the way most people use and interact with the rest of the web.
Subscriptions are .99 cents for a week or $39.99 a year, and the first two weeks are free to test it out.
- Rotate iPad for bonus features, low bulk
- Sleek, easy to use interface
- Amount of stories
- App still crashing with some frequency
- No table of contents
- Quality of news
So is it worth it? The low cost for a single week's worth of content and the ease of use makes this a very appealing app, and we recommend at least giving it a shot. If you're looking for hard-hitting journalism or longreads on your tablet, you're better off sticking with the Wall Street Journal or Financial Times apps.
There are still some kinks to be worked out behind the scenes regarding Apple's policy toward newspaper subscriptions and taking a cut of app fees. But now that The Daily has demonstrated such a news distribution setup is not only possible (as long as you have $30 million) but desirable and appealing, it's only natural that other news organizations will want to get a piece of the action.
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