The Daily

We know that… that is…. we UNDERSTAND that (how to say it?)… You might not have (not sure why), an iPad. No, it’s okay, really, it’s okay. Not everyone has to have one, it’s really okay, no need to apologize, or what’s worse, refer to Ned Ludd, etc.

Not having an iPad simply means: this article is not for you. Unless, of course, you would like a glimpse into the shiny new future in which you DO own an iPad.

I say this only because of the recent (today?) launch of the first daily newspaper app launched on the iPad (really, it’s a multimedia extravaganza, camouflaged as a “newspaper”), as described today on USAToday.com.

If it is not immediately apparent to you why it is ironic to have such an announcement by USA Today, let me give you  a little historic perspective, since when USA Today came out there was no national newspaper in the US.

It was an enormous logistical challenge to produce copies of USA Today at multiple printing presses all around the country to get delivery first in a number of test markets, and then to make it available everywhere. Only a really large newspaper organization, Gannett, could pull that off.

And now USA Today is a fixture of national life, and in retrospect seems more or less to have been an obvious, sensible idea. (I know, I just mentioned the birth of USA Today in my last post, but it’s still true).

The austerely named “The Daily” could have the same fate, in that it has staked out new territory that also simply makes sense, in the online/ontime/iPad space.

The Flipboard magazine app, which came out some months ago does a good, if somewhat diffuse job of providing compelling visuals and text, but The Daily is more topical, and includes mutimedia content in a compelling, reasonably well organized and engaging (and tactile) way.

More telling, the ads on The Daily are, in general, engaging multimedia experiences. I just had tears in my eyes from the hilarious Johnny Depp-enhanced trailer on the making of the upcoming movie Rango.

But it’s not just the ads. There is an article in today’s issue in which two Harlem Globetrotters demonstrate how to spin a basketball on your finger, something that my father (now deceased) could do but never actually taught me to do. Gotta have that trick, and the video in that article showed me how.

From a journalistic perspective, the articles in The Daily are feature articles, i.e. – the kind of articles that journalists like to write but don’t very often get to, as opposed to hard news. Even so, they are using the expanded potential of a handheld mutimedia device to the max, at least in the current state of technology.

There are some things that could be better. It’s not entirely obvious where all the articles are within each subject area. When you scroll to the  right through the articles within a topic area you sometimes enter a dark space and suddenly end up in a full page ad. Maybe more use will make it clearer.

And there are still some missed opportunities, but they are being missed in web browsers as well, such as a tool or capability to click on any term or name in articles and have it defined or at least link to a Wikipedia definition.

That you are not really in a web environment within the app is a curious feeling, of course, and the avid web user may feel a little guilty just consuming text and images, when they should be interacting, managing and multitasking their media experience (e.g. – by looking things up), but The Daily is still an engaging step forward, and at least a first mover and a potential precursor to an emerging NewsApp media genre.

It’s free for two weeks, and then either 99 cents a week or $39.99  a year after that

The latter is an 11.49 savings annually, which, if you go out and get a $499 iPad right now, will pay for your iPad in 43.4 years. Maybe you can use that to justify getting one (good luck explaining that to your wife).

See also: http://www.thedaily.com/

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