Monday, February 7, 2011

The Daily finds it can adjust somewhat to breaking news, but the iPad app itself has some serious issues

This is the start of the second week of the life of The Daily and today presented a bit of a challenge as the news of the Huffington Post purchase by AOL had to be accommodated by the iPad-publication.
To do this, the editors simply inserted a new story into the file being sent to readers. Since pages are not numbered in the iPad app, this doesn't present much of an issue -- nothing needs to be relaid out, nothing needs to be removed, simply add in a new story. One knows this is the way the editors handled the new story because the TOC does not include the Huffington Post story.

The decision to use animation for the front cover when in portrait mode appears to have been a mistake. In landscape, the cover appears instantly and the reader can move on to the content within. But in portrait mode, the cover loads so slowly that for several minutes one is left with no illustration at all.
I noticed this flaw one the first day of the launch of The Daily, but let it go as either a slow load or a slight first day hiccup. But here we are in the second week of The Daily and I find that I can do without that cover animation. Today, for instance, the animation simply zooms out of a static picture.

The app is also crashing a lot. This may be caused by the fact that I have not rebooted my iPad in quite a while (iPad and iPhone owners get so used to the instant-on of their devices that they forget that it is a good idea to power down their iOS devices occasionally and allow for a reboot).

The Daily itself is far more a digital news magazine than a digital newspaper. Most of the content is not very timely and this may prove to be good. After all, I really don't see a tablet newspaper with a native app design being able to compete with an RSS driven news app -- the web (and hence RSS feeds) are in a better position to provide up to the minute news. If I were creating a digital "newspaper" for the iPad I would go with a design more like the NYT or Financial Times model. But The Daily works best in this magazine-styled look.

But which came first: the design or the editorial philosophy? It probably doesn't matter, the design and the content philosophy are a good match.

What about The Daily as a daily read? That's not really TNM's focus, but I'm impressed by the fact that I haven't deleted the app yet. This morning's editorial only hints at the News Corp. presence behind The Daily. How long before we get the full Monty? I expect it to come out well before the 2012 elections. It would have been wise to have created The Daily completely absent editorials and opinion, but I think the temptation to use the iPad to spread the corporate line was too great. But for now The Daily is toning it down a bit.