The Daily

Are We Ready to Pay For Electronic News?

i do a lot of reading on my tablet - from newspapers to novels to comic books. For a while, The Daily was also in the mix - a completely digital newspaper backed with the resources of Rupert Murdoch and News Corp. Well, that's come to an official end, as News corp is shutting down the Daily. Does this mean that we're not ready to pay for electronic news?


The Daily was built off of a subscription model, which needs to be justified by interesting content. Unfortunately, The Daily's content was a mix of interesting op-eds and tabloidish material.  There were often one or two gems, but never enough to keep me going back to the app. I pay to subscribe to the New York Times electronic edition because it is the source of record for enough original content that I can't get anywhere else. Not so with The Daily.

As I mentioned in a March 2011 post, the app is not impressive from a technical perspective - it's slow and not intuitive.  It had a seemingly great option - the ability to download the current issue via WiFi so that you can read it on the go while offline - but this feature strangely left certain parts of the newspaper inaccessible and did not improve load times.  It shouldn't take me a long time to flip through a digital newspaper that is supposedly downloaded onto my device.

With that said, someone had to be the trailblazer and put a lot of money and resources into a new technology.  Even though News Corp has to bite the bullet on this, they did push the idea forward. Let's hope that other media players, old and new, take this idea and do it right. People will pay for good content. The Daily didn't nail it, but someone else will.

The Daily Exercise in Futility

When news about The Daily iPad app first surfaced, I thought that it would be the best of both worlds. My hope was that it would combine the traditional tone and long form journalism of the old guard (NYT, WashPost apps) with the realtime and social nature of the web (Flipboard).

The great thing about these three apps is that they have intuitive user interfaces that load quickly and allow you to browse efficiently to get to whatever you are interested in at a particular moment. I can get in, get what I want quickly, and get out, like those hilarious Windows Phone commercials. Or, I can just browse around and find articles that I wouldn't normally select out of a list. Overall, these apps replicate my pre-Internet newspaper reading experience (Yes Virginia, there was a world before the Internet).

My hopes have been dashed. After using the Daily ... well, daily since it released, several things have irked me about me. Some of the more glaring issues have already been patched, most notably the constant crashing.

These two problems rank the highest on my list of irritations:


1) Load time is sloooowwwww!.

I tried to update the app at 5:30pm after work, and it took about 3 minutes to download. This is WAY too long. I ruled out any network issues because performance was fine before and after the update. To make it even worse, I previously updated the app this morning at 6am. After the painful update, there were only minor additions in te paper. WHAT was it downloading all of that time!?


2) The audio feature is borked

I love, love the idea of having audio. When I am getting ready in the morning, I usually listen to the NPR hourly update and a few on demand stories that I can easily see in a menu and quickly add to a playlist.

Unfortunately, none of this exists in the Daily. There is no menu implementation of any kind to see what stories have audio - there's just an audio button on the main screen. Press that, and it automatically scrolls to the cover page of the first article with audio. Want to read that article while the audio plays? Too bad, that shuts off the audio. Want to skip past it? The only way to do that is to turn audio off, and back up. If you press the forward button, which is located next to the audio button, it simply scrolls to the next story (that may or may not have audio) and shuts off the audio. Ugly, ugly, ugly. Oh, and how in the world can a high profile release not support background audio while multitasking?

In it's current implementation, I don't get much use out of the Daily. The slow loading time makes it impratical to use while not connected to wifi, and the rudimentary audio features does not allow me to easily listen to audio from stories of my choosing. If these two issues are fixed, I'm all on board. Your move, Murdoch.