SXSW is a veritable playground for journalists, with panels catering to media professionals and -- most importantly -- no shortage of free food. We're not surprised, then, that The New York Times chose Austin as the venue for an announcement this week. Perhaps "tease" is more apt than announcement, though, since we aren't allowed to capture any pictures of the upcoming NYT Now app at this time (the bar menu above was the only documentation we're permitted to publish).
Set to launch "very soon," NYT Now features curated contented from the Times, and unlike the publication's current algorithm-powered mobile app, it boasts a dedicated staff responsible for hand-picking stories and repackaging them for consumption on your phone. Expect shorter, more visual stories, with bullet points and minimal paragraphs to get to the core of a story quickly. In addition to articles from the paper, NYT Now will feature an "Our Picks" tab that highlights content from around the web curated by Times editors. There's also a "Save for Later" section, which lets you bookmark articles. Based on our cursory preview of the app on iOS (it will eventually come to Android), we find the interface compelling; the main page highlighted a recently updated documentary, and curated picks included a well-sourced piece from ABC about the missing Malaysia Airlines flight.
Clifford Levy, the head of NYT Now, told us the Times is hoping to reach "a new generation of subscribers" with the new app, while executive editor Jill Abramson said she hopes Now will be a "gateway drug" to full subscriptions. It's a subscription-based model, with the fee set at $8 per month, though that cost includes access to the full versions of any stories featured on the app. If you want access to all articles on the desktop rather than the curated selection, you'll still have to fork over the $15, though current digital subscribers will get access to NYT Now gratis. The publication's reps are being tight-lipped about the app's launch details, but look for it to drop soon. In the meantime, enjoy the Times' SXSW soiree cocktail list (we have it on good authority that the Lady Baltimore was quite tasty).
Zach Honig contributed to this report.