May 11, 2010, 9:21 AM — The New York Times released version 1.0 of its Android application yesterday and it's a great example of how newspapers can deliver content to mobile devices. The app also calls into question some limitations of the iPad's Editor's Choice app.
You may recall that Steve Jobs and I were both rather disappointed with the contents of the Times' Editor's Choice iPad app. There was some speculation that the content was limited due to agreements the Times had with Amazon. If that's true, the agreement clearly doesn't apply to Android, because the NY Times android app has 28 sections, from the expected such as Latest News, World and Politics, to the 'deeper cuts' like Automobiles and Obituaries. The Times Magazine is in there, and there's a very nice NY Times Video section, too. Each of these sections has a lot of content (as I write this, Latest News has 12 stories, World has 37 stories, Automobiles even has 10, though granted the oldest is from last week). This app makes me feel like I don't need a print copy of the paper to keep up with what's going on in the world; something the iPad app certainly did not do.
There are just a few changes I'd like to see made to improve the app. First, it's locked into portrait mode and has no zoom feature. This is only a problem for those of us older folks who're starting to struggle with tiny text, but it'd also be nice to zoom images to take up the whole screen (the Video section does this and it looks great). Alleviating the lack of zoom somewhat is a font size option though it's a little bit hidden. You can only access it via the menu button when you're reading the content of an article; there doesn't seem to be any way to increase the font size of headline listings.
So, no, the app isn't perfect, but for a 1.0 version it's very good, and honestly quite a surprise. The New York Times has announced that they're planning to start charging for content next year, and as mentioned, the iPad's Times app has very limited content. So getting such a full featured app offering what seems to be all of the NY Time's content for free was a very pleasant surprise. If you're a NY Times reader with an Android device, there's no reason for you not to search the Market for NY Times and download this app.