News Corp.’s The Daily is a bit disappointing

This week saw the debut of News Corporation’s iPad-specific newspaper.  As just about everyone else that uses an iPad or that has an interest in publication I was eager to get a look at what they had come up with and was quick to download the App.

At first I was quite impressed with the App, as its graphical presentation is quite stunning.  The Daily starts out with a brief splash animation and drops you into a carousel of beautiful pages which spins by itself every few seconds.

A deeper look into the publication, however, revealed that most articles are actually quite shallow, ending just as I was starting to get interested in the subject.  This perception might be related to the fact that The Daily looks a lot more like one of the several iPad magazines that a newspaper.  The Daily doesn’t even have a “first page”, it has a magazine style cover with a large picture and the logo.  Regardless, I expected more content, specially given the great image content you get.

The way information is organized within the application got some criticism from an early review on Wired, as having several articles on the same page seems inconsistent with having a single comment stream on them.  A similar issue arises when you want to save an article for later reading as the App saves pages and not articles.

Saving articles for later reading becomes a lot more important as soon as you find out that once the App downloads the day’s paper you’ve lost the previous one.  While that might be interesting from the perspective of not eating up space on the reader’s device, it is quite the let down when you pick up your iPad to read that article you just noticed last night when you were going to sleep and it isn’t there anymore.

Other publications, including newspapers, which are already available on the iPad allow the readers to decide if an when they will remove past issues. This is useful when you are saving information as reference or simply if you don’t have the time to read an article right now, but you know you’ll want to read it later.

Brazilian newspaper “O Globo” on the iPad – Issue library.

After going through a couple of issues of The Daily I felt quite disappointed.  Perhaps I was just expecting too much from what is after all the first attempt at a daily publication on the iPad, but somehow having been reading the news on the Web for the past 15 years, I feel the designers of the The Daily have missed the mark.  Considering all the effort that has gone into creating this publication, I’m confident some of these issues will be addressed and the experience will improve over time.

The designers for The Daily, to forget that there ever was such a thing as a paper printed newspaper or magazine and design for the iPad.  Flipboard, the social magazine application, does a much better job of organizing content and comments while still providing a graphically rich view of it all.  While The Daily certainly has stunning pages which are probably individually designed, Flipboard treats content as articles instead of as pages.  This small difference has a huge impact in usability.

I’ll probably become a subscriber of The Daily when the free trial period is over, in a bit over a week, if only to see how it evolves over time.

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