A lot of newspapers have shut down over the last decade, proving that the power of the printed word isn’t exclusive to actual paper in the ever-growing digital age. And even the Web is getting competition these days from mobile devices. It’s always something.
It seems the timing was right for Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. to launch a digital paper exclusively for the iPad.
The Daily is packed with 100 pages of information spread across numerous categories and comes with high-definition photos, video segments, crossword and even sudoku puzzles. But what everyone is really interested in is the news content. And News Corp. has hired 100 journalists from often very distinct backgrounds (Vanity Fair, New York Times ) that should appeal to all types of readers. But is it enough to sign up for a subscription program ?
First, let’s clarify how the subscription works. The Daily will be free of charge for the next two weeks. After the trial basis there are two options available: a one week subscription for $.99, or a yearly subscription for $39.99. So there’s essentially a trial run to show all the app has to offer, and if it’s of any value.
When The Daily first starts up, there are six categories to choose from – News, Gossip, Opinion, Arts & Life, Apps & Games and Sports. Hot spots on the bottom of the page allow for skipping right to those sections, and pages can be flipped through and zoomed in once a specific one is found. The interaction with these pages are superb, giving the option to skim and see what each daily issue has to offer. Furthermore, it’s supported by both landscape and portrait viewing modes, as the page formats depending on how the iPad is held. That’s a pretty cool trick, considering most digital magazines stick with a format that either stays in one format or crunches together when switching to another.
The high-definition photos that The Daily has to offer are simply stunning. There was a story in today’s issue talking about the conflict in Egypt, with photos that really draw the reader in to what’s happening. The set-up of text on each page is also sharp, with headlines fading into view and paragraphs that are easy on the eyes. There’s also plenty of interactivity between the articles, complete with user polls, sudoku and crossword puzzles (new ones every day) and interactivity with Facebook and Twitter accounts.
That’s the good news.
Now the bad: The Daily is far from perfect. The first thing we noticed after setting up the App is that it doesn’t properly read the local area. We had to wait a second for it to try and read our location, only to state that it couldn’t read our zip code accurately enough. So, after manually entering it, the page reloaded but it still didn’t calculate. After a few tries, it finally read our local area, and we were on our way.
However, that’s not the only problem. The Daily promises that the videos available in each daily issue are in high-definition, but that’s hardly the case. They often look like cheap YouTube feeds at best, with a good amount of glitching and fuzziness in the beginning. They clear up after a second or two, but they’re hardly on the same level of what you’d see on CNN. Plus, most of them are over in about three minutes anyway, way too short for certain stories.
The Daily also has a huge problem with full-page ads. Sure, we’re used to seeing ads in newspapers, but these pop up every fourth page or so, and they rarely change. While running through today’s issue, we ran into the same ad for the animated film Rio and the big Fox advertisement for the Super Bowl consistently. One would think Rupert Murdoch would’ve called upon more advertisers to join the party.
As for the interaction itself, it’s pretty good. Simply swipe your finger along the screen to change pages with ease, while using push button commands on the bottom of the page to manually move about and skip to a favorite section. There are times when it gets stuck, though, and when we tried to skip ahead in a video segment, we accidentally flipped the page instead of moving the cursor in the play bar. We then had to return to that page and start all over again – a minor annoyance.
Another problem is that it’s not nearly updated enough to meet to some standards. There was the promise of local coverage, but from the time we spent with The Daily, we didn’t really find local news at all. For example, I’m working out of our Denver bureau and even with the app location there wasn’t a report on the Colorado Avalanche, or the Denver Nuggets; just a scoreboard with limited access and information. However, there was a local temperature reading and daily horoscope, but that’s really it. There is too much focus on national news, and some subjects received more attention than others. We only got a few pages regarding Egypt, but a big blowout on the Super Bowl; like we didn’t get enough of that on ESPN.com.
On top of that, no comics. Ugh, c’mon, we all need a laugh sometime.
That’s perhaps The Daily’s biggest fault – it’s simply not updated enough. A new issue is available each day, as the title indicates, but $40 for a digital magazine that doesn’t update on the same level as CNN or MSNBC might not appeal to everyone. The need for constant information is obviously quite huge nowadays, and it’s hard to take The Daily seriously when the news provided is a few hours old, compared to what’s currently running through the Safari browser.
Don’t get us wrong. The Daily is decent, and if the News Corp. crew can fix the small errors, include more local news and get rid of the constant cyber ads, it’ll have a deserving audience in no time flat. For the time being, though, users will want to take this time to see what it’s all about before making the jump into a subscription. Is it a good app? Yeah, but it’s hardly the next step in cyber press.
Price: Free for first two weeks ($.99 for two week subscription, $39.99 for a yearly subscription)
File Size: 46.5 MB
Developer: News DP Holdings, Inc.
RATING: ** (out of 4)