An inside look at the new ‘Times' iPad app

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Last week, The New York Times released the NYTimes App for iPad, replacing the Editor's Choice App launched in April and downloaded more than 650,000 times. While the design and usability of the previous app was well-received, the content was limited.

The new app provides access to more than 25 sections of The New York Times, as well as photos, video and posts from more than 50 blogs. The iPad app can currently be downloaded for free, but it will become a paid subscription product when the Times moves to a paid model in 2011; pricing has not been announced.

For more details, Digital Directions spoke with Denise Warren, senior VP-chief advertising officer for the New York Times Media Group and general manger, and Yasmin Namini, senior VP-marketing and circulation at New York Times Media Group, and general manager-reader applications.

Digital Directions: Was this app created by in-house developers?

Warren: The NYTimes App was designed in-house by our outstanding software development group. Over the past few years as we have developed mobile and Web applications for a number of devices—including iPhone, BlackBerry, Palm Pre and Android—our team has accumulated an incredible amount of expertise. We have longstanding staff members who have stepped up to learn new skills, and we have brought in new employees with specific areas of expertise.

DD: How does this app fit within your mobile and e-reader strategy?

Namini: More and more, our readers are coming to us on a variety of platforms, and we are committed to creating optimal reading experiences tailored to the distinctive characteristics of each platform. The iPad is still a relatively new product, and we believe it requires a fresh approach beyond Web, mobile or print.

Our primary focus was to design an app that embraced user expectations for the iPad, merging content and design to create an immersive experience that allows readers to sit back and enjoy. With all of that content, navigation was an important function [to enable] readers to know where they are within the app, easily transition between articles and sections, and discover content they may not have seen otherwise. Touch functionality—such as swipe-through navigation and touch-to-view photos and videos—was used to create a more personal, tactile experience.

Warren: Rather than learning just from the iPad, we are using our past experience and our users' feedback on all platforms as an opportunity for learning and developing best practices. One of the most important lessons is that users have different expectations from products on different platforms.

DD: How do you create a seamless brand experience for the user and advertiser across this growing number of platforms?

Namini: The Times' high-quality journalism is first and foremost why our readers come to us, regardless of the distribution model. As we develop new products, our commitment to that is top of mind in design, layout and tools.

Warren: For advertisers, our main focus is delivering the Times' outstanding audience with an integrated program of innovative ads, [along with] expert marketing advice tailored to accomplish marketing goals across the products and platforms that make the most sense.

Our advertising for iPad is designed to provide our clients with a large, beautiful marketing canvas and engaging rich media capabilities. Our ads use the latest technology, including tilt to activate ad, swipe to activate ad, tap to activate ad and click to view slide shows and video, download iPad app, hear song/audio file and more.

DD: Did collecting registrations from users who have downloaded your app for free via the iTunes store require a new, different or additional agreement with Apple?

Namini: We don't disclose arrangements with third parties. Registration and subscriptions for the app are being handled through the Times' customer management systems, which will enable us to maintain a close relationship with our customers.

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