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Feb 18, 2011

The Daily has made me a USA Today Reader

Yes its true. Newscorp's The Daily application for the iPad has turned me into a USA Today reader on the iPad. Here is my take.

When The Daily came out about two weeks ago, I was really intrigued. A news application with a staff like a newspaper. New content will be created on a daily basis with a focus on media designed for the iPad. All for about $50 a year subscription. A great price compared to my local newspaper. So I read The Daily for about a week and here are the conclusions I came to.

Good Things about The Daily
  • All the articles are beautiful and well written. I really liked how the articles looked. Someone on the staff has a good eye for design.
  • The 360 degree photos are really cool. Basically it is like standing on the spot where the news is happening and looking around.
  • Great photos. Lots of slide shows with high res photos. Very nice.
  • I liked the shorter form articles myself. I am really not that interested in 10 page articles. (A criticism I have heard on a number of podcasts.)
  • The news, life, and sports sections are very good.

The Bad Things about The Daily
  • It takes too long to load. This has been a universal criticism. Instead of loading the front page and loading the rest in the background, you have to wait like a minute for the whole thing to load. Way to slow.
  • Content is a little thin. I thought there could be a few more stories in each section to give the paper a little more weight. The tech section suffered the most from this.
  • Local sports coverage not good enough. Even though I'm sure they can't cover local sports, they could at least provide AP feeds and do the stats really well. Compared to just about any sports website on the net, their stats are kinda lame.
  • No business section. Really?  You guys own the Wall Street Journal for goodness sake.
  • Not much in the way of personalization.
So on the whole, I think the negatives outweigh the positives. To make The Daily work this is what I think they need to do.
  • Partner with others to provide more content. This could be existing NewCorp properties or external. But they need more content than is provided right now. For example, I would love business news from the Journal, soccer news from Sky Sports, and tech news from All Things D. All NewsCorp properties.
  • Focus on curation and creation. Creating your own content is great. But I want someone to help me find the great stories and blog posts out there on the Internet.  If you can find 5 great stories per day in a category, I would pay for that.
  • Be part of the net. Don't be afraid to link to content. In addition, integrate with twitter and Facebook. Let folks look at their feed while in your app. 

USA Today
So to compare The Daily to something, I started reading the USA Today iPad app on a daily basis. By the end of about a week I was really enjoying reading it. And so, since I like it better and the price is better (free), I plan to use this as my national paper app of choice for the time being. Here is why.

  • It loads fast. Open the app and whatever page or section you are on, loads in a second or two. Very fast.
  • More content, but not too much. Each section has more content, but not so much that I am drowning in it.
  • Good Tech and Business sections. All the sections are good and there are more of them.
  • Simple user interface. Although not as fancy as The Daily, it is a lot easier to use. Anybody can figure it out in about 5 minutes.
So right now, I plan on using USA Today for the near term. But I will keep my eye on The Daily. Given the number of properties NewsCorp has and the potential that is there, they could still come up with a killer app in a few months. 

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