Today, while stuck at home with 3.5 ft snow drifts and no internet, I listened to the news on my Sirius satellite radio. One major story–aside from that of Snowpocalypse–was the debut of the first ever iPad ‘newspaper’ app, The Daily. What struck me more than the business model ($0.99/week or $39.99/year for content that you can’t get anywhere but through the app itself), was the amount of techie brouhaha surrounding it. This alone got me excited because that usually means something truly unique or monumental is being accomplished with an application. Rupert Murdoch, founder of Newscorp, and Eddy Cue, Apple’s VP of Internet Services, introduced The Daily to the world as the first app of its kind. So, once I had access to the internet again, I downloaded it.
And what was my reaction? “Ooh! This is pretty cool!”
In terms of design, it’s clean and uses space well. Users can peruse content by swiping through items in coverflow view, but it is called carousel by the developing team. As an added bonus, these content items rotate on their own after a set amount of time. Within each item, interaction is intuitive and the results engaging. For instance, swiping left to right in an item while in portrait view takes you through pages of the story. Changing the orientation of the device to landscape view lets you view photos. You can then swipe left and right to view photos. This interaction can get a bit confusing the first time using the application. Some articles swipe left to right to advance through them, while others, such as in the Apps & Games section, require a user to swipe down to read an article and left and right to switch between articles. Luckily there are usually pretty clear visual cues for this, like in The Coquette, the daily advice column: An arrow at the bottom right of the screen indicates the need to swipe down for more content.
There’s a strong social component to the application, too. Users can post to facebook, twitter, or email the story. Leaving comments is, of course, also available. However, you can actually record a comment.
Another cool factor: Video anchor! While in carousel view there is an expandable control panel with an icon that looks like an old TV set. Tapping it will launch a brief video giving an overview of the current article. There’s also story audio that can be accessed by tapping on the headphones icon. This audio will play in order of the articles in the issue, or can be randomized by clicking on the shuffle icon.
Navigation gets an A- from me. The main navigation consists of only 6 items: News, Gossip, Opinion, Arts & Life, Apps & Games, and Sports. Tapping on one, though, launches users into the first item in that section sometimes with no clue as to how many other, or what are the other, items in the category.
Features in this app are fantastic. In the Apps & Games section there are useful app reviews, and daily sudoku (WIN!) and crossword puzzles (meh). There is also a daily horoscope feature and local weather, which I should have mentioned early–the weather feature is pretty nifty. Both the horoscope and weather can be set by the user in their account settings, and once set up, the weather will allow a 5-day and 12-hour forecast. The cool factor increases with the 12-hour forecast as it includes a slider users can move to see the time, phase of the sun or moon, cloud cover, and temperature.
All in all, this seems like a nifty app so far. And in an effort to convince everyone, Verizon is covering a 2-week trial period for new users of the app. With that, what’s the reason not to check it out? (And if won’t check it out because it came from Newscorp or Rupert Murdoch, then your loss.)