Times Reader AIR application from The New York Times

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.

6 thoughts on “Times Reader AIR application from The New York Times

  1. Here’s my feedback to NYTimes:

    The new Times Reader 2.0 is a DISASTER. On a Windows machine, have you ever done a juxtaposed comparison of the old and new Reader?

    The new Reader isn’t remotely as legible. WPF beats ADOBE Air hollow. Since you’re in the news business, this surely shouldn’t be news to you.
    The new Reader takes more time for news updates.
    The new Reader takes far more memory. ADOBE Air applications are always bloated.
    The new Reader has less reading space.
    The new Reader bombards me with extremely annoying internal ads. and ads. by Google. When I’m paying you, I’m expecting you to remove the noise factor. You were…until now.
    There’s no doubt in my mind that TR 2.0 is a regressive step. The only good thing about the new Reader is that it supports video.

    I know these are desperate times for newspapers, but is the New York Times this desperate? It’s understandable that NYTimes is looking to broaden its reader base by making Times Reader more platform agnostic. However, as far as Windows readers are concerned, the new Reader is undeniably a raw deal. Maybe you could keep the old version available for Windows readers.

    What worries me the most is the poor legibility of the new Reader. Even the browser makes for easier reading. Frankly speaking, I’ve made up my mind to unsubscribe when my current subscription expires next year. Using FeedDemon to subscribe to the free RSS feeds makes better sense. Wouldn’t you agree?

    Deepanjan Nag

  2. @Deepanjan, totally disagree with you- this is a wonderful piece of AIR App. It provides very clean and easy for the eyes, very nice to read along.

    Congrats NY Times team.

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  4. @Deepanjan

    I think you are biased. I couldn’t do any comparison between the WPF and AIR version, because, well I am using a MacBook. On my MacBook the AIR application uses less 3% of the CPU and about 70MB of Memory (Private Memory Size). Adding to this that you can have the application installed on any OS (Win, Mac OS, Linux) I think it is great.

    At the same time I don’t understand exactly why are you saying that you this application doesn’t offer enough space for reading. You can resize the app to use all the screen resolution, you can hide the left navigation bar (in this case you have the article, the title bar, and the bottom bar to control the navigation, printing, and font size). Another feature that this app has is the crossword. You can play with it directly from the app, no need to launch another a separate application.

    Here are some thoughts from a guy who develops applications using Microsoft technologies: http://www.lorenheiny.com/2009/05/08/new-york-times-reader-dumps-wpf-for-air/

    And finally let’s don’t start a flame. I respect your feedback, even if I don’t agree with you.

  5. The new Times Reader does not use subpixel antialiasing, either on Vista or OSX. That makes its fonts look blurry to me. Whether or not you like Subpixel AA, both MS and Apple have chosen to use it, so the Times Reader looks out of place. I have seen a few Air apps that use subpixel AA, so I know it is possible, but most of them seem not to. What’s up with this?

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