February 9, 2011

A Week Of The Daily

I had high hopes for The Daily. I loved the idea of a publication designed just for the iPad, and its estimable editorial team, including Sasha Frere-Jones of The New Yorker.

A week of daily reading of The Daily later, there's a lot to like. The design is strong, and takes advantage of the iPad's capabilities (though having to switch from horizontal to vertical to get at a feature is annoying). It's a great vehicle for photos and videos. The iPad app reviews are worthwhile, and the gossip coverage, headed up by Richard Johnson, formerly of Page Six. is a good read. And the crossword software they use is much more user-friendly than The New York Times's puzzle.

Unfortunately, the crossword clues are not nearly as interesting or challenging; they're somewhere between People and New York Magazine. And that's my problem with The Daily; for someone with an admitted Times addiction, it's just not that smart. It's determinedly middlebrow, like a digitally cleverer version of Newsweek. Not that there's anything wrong with that. It's just not right for me.

Also, I do my primary news reading on my iPad in the morning, and a magazine format doesn't work for me then. But as a study by Read It Later shows, and as I'm sure The Daily's publisher Rupert Murdoch knows, iPad reading spikes in the evening - and after a long day of looking at a screen, that's usually when I want to read print.

One of The Daily's biggest innovations is the recurring-charges model, a first for iTunes. Today, I was reminded that I'd finished my first free week of two, and was offered the option of a year for $40 or a week-to-week subscription at 99 cents per week. I don't think I'm going to choose either. But I appreciate the innovation and effort - and I'll keep an eye on what they do.

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