The New York Times for iPad app has received a much-needed update. The first version, introduced in the middle of October, replaced the older free Editor's Choice app, which only had a small subset of Times content. This new version is free but only temporarily, as the newspaper intends to start charging sometime in 2011.
I've been using the full content version since it came out. It crashed frequently, enough to make the app unappealing, and ultimately unusable. Today's update is not plagued with the aggravating crashes of version 1, but it is still far from perfect.
It's great to have the full content of the paper, along with slide shows and videos, but there is absolutely no search function. That, I think, is a pretty important feature when you are dishing out all this content. As before, the app is slow to start. In my tests, it takes from 6-10 seconds before it displays anything at all. I realize it is pre-loading a lot of content, but I think the programmers need to work on getting the app to respond faster. There are some other strange issues. While reading page 3 of a section the app jumped back to page 1 while I wasn't even touching the screen. Huh?
While reading this morning's election news, I was struck that the same images and slide shows appeared on many pages; I even saw the same image twice on one page. No self-respecting editor would put a newspaper together that way, and there are surely some clever options the developers can use to stop this visual overkill. I like the Times, and I wish them well with this app, but it must improve before they start charging people. Check the gallery to see the superfluous graphics.