The New York Times just released the Times Reader AIR application. This application lets you “consume” The New York Times newspaper on your screen. You can install it from here.
It doesn’t sound exciting at all, does it? Just another custom reader for a newspaper. Well, you couldn’t be more wrong! My friend Tudor (user experience designer at Adobe) and I believe that this application is one of the best out there in terms of the immersive experience that it offers to its users when it comes to consuming text on a computer screen. The main thing that this application managed to do is to offer an excellent digital “paper” to read the news, but at the same time, retain some of the magic that an “analog” paper has. Of course being digital made it easy to add features that are not available in the paper edition (like having a picture gallery as a way to see the news).
At the core of this is a clean interface and liquid design (as you change the size of the application, the layout and the content adapt to that new size, thus the user gets the best possible experience). See the following pictures where I played with the first page at different sizes.
How did they do it? Very simple :D. They leveraged the new features available in Flash Player 10 and Adobe AIR 1.5, in particular the new Text Engine and the library built on top of it, Text Layout Framework. I can’t wait to see what they can do for mobile devices, when we have Flash Player 10 for mobiles (FP 10 for mobile devices will be out soon)! The application is created using the open source Flex framework.
You can use the free version, or the full version (if you have any kind of subscription to the newspaper, or you pay a weekly fee).
Try it and let me know what do you think!
Later Update: You can read more about the features of this application on New York Times blog.
Later Later Update: You can view here a short interview with the UXDs that worked with The New York Times to build the app.