The UK Sunday Times have just released their iPad application and made today’s edition free to trial. Thereafter you can access it as part of a paid subscription or buy it as a standalone edition for about a 30 pence (50 cents) discount to the newsprint edition.
So what do I think ?
My newspaper consumption on iPad had largely been defined by The Times (the sister paper to The Sunday Times), the WSJ, The New York Times and the Daily Telegraph. I’ve been paying a subscription for The Times over four months and have found the process and the reading experience a very straightforward one. Full download is achieved about 30 seconds after pressing the button and the newspaper is read in portrait format just like the newsprint version. In fact when I have compared iPad and print editions page by page they are almost indistinguishable.
Not so The Sunday Times. Now it was always going to be different. The Sunday Times is still published in multiple sections in broadsheet format and the way the iPad edition operates reflects this.
Every section is downloaded individually and it’s slooooooowwwwwww. You are not going to be able to quickly download the entire newspaper just before the aeroplane doors close.
In terms of consumption it is a rich read but it’s confusing. It’s best read in landscape but you have to get used to moving up and down and not just left and right. There are instruction arrows and advice to turn one way and then the other. There is a good deal more interactivity but that comes with the danger of getting lost.
This explains why they have provided 7 pages of help and advice on how to read. I think they need to work harder on the User Interface.
As someone who likes to skim through the newspaper from end to end BEFORE I read a single article this is going to prove a challenge and I suspect I will still buy the print edition when I can and only use the digital edition when I am travelling.
I would give this a 6/10 but A+ for getting it out.
Lastly, since this is a News International title they should look to their cousins over the water, the WSJ, and allow the subscriber to email articles to people as they read them. A pay wall should not be a prison and surely they would benefit from the reader advocacy !