Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

NYT Now What?

The New York Times Company:

The new version features a fresh look and improved card designs to help readers catch up even faster. Screenshots of the new cards can easily be shared with friends. Content is updated around the clock, and the app now highlights new stories since your last check-in.

NYT Now’s popular Morning Briefing now comes with an alert feature to notify users as soon as it’s ready.

I really like the sound of these features. I regularly check the app throughout the day, so any indication of what’s new is helpful to me, and the morning briefing notification feels kind of like you’re living in a movie where you need your mission dossier. Only one problem:

Fans of NYT Now rejoice: The Times’s news app — designed to get you caught up on the most important and interesting stories — is free starting today.

Why is this a problem? Brian Krogsgard explains:

I wonder, is it really worth me keeping my subscription when 90% of the Times articles I read are from what is now a free app? Likely not.

Unless, of course, they cheapen the app content.

[…]

Starting this morning, the app showcases a big sponsor link, so I guess that’s how they plan to monetize it. Furthermore, I presume they anticipate they can get folks addicted enough to want full access — and of that goal, I am quite skeptical.

I’m a Times subscriber, so launching the app to find a Delta ad larger than the NYT Now logo on the splash screen offended me a little this morning. I want to feel like I’m reading the New York Times, not Delta’s newsletter. Of course, subscribers can sign into the NYT Now app, but I’m unclear whether that gives me less of a “freemium” experience, or whether it just lets me sync my saved articles.

There’s always the standard Times app that I could use instead, but it doesn’t have the impression of speed that NYT Now does. It feels like the entire paper, which is nice on a desktop, but a little heavy for a phone. The standard app is also buried in Newsstand, and it can’t be taken out. NYT Now is still winning for me — the new app looks and feels great, and it still does what I want it to (despite curated and recommended stories from other sources being blended into the main feed, rather than being under a separate tab). But it’s kinda hard to choose between the two, as neither are now ideal for their purpose.