The New York Times' mobile 'Today's Paper' could be a lot better by jgn on Saturday, March 30, 2024 in reading

I like to read the paper. On paper. I like to read a paper with a lot of news, if not the most news (compared to other papers). That would seem to be the New York Times. I subscribe to home delivery with a Friday, Saturday, Sunday subscription which also gets me the online/mobile experience. What I like about the printed edition is that the importance of articles is indicated by size and placement, and I can scan more headlines at a glance. The pictures are bigger. Oh, and it's not online. I spend most of my week looking at a computer screen, and it's a nice treat to do some old-fashioned reading from print.

Recently, however, my eyes have gotten worse, and for whatever reason, the print seems to be lighter. I think the paper is printed here in Minnesota and sometimes the print is light enough that it's hard to read, even when under a bright light. This has made me wonder about switching to the mobile edition, where I can control brightness (and font size, though I'm satisfied with the default font size on mobile).

But remember that I like the print edition's sequencing of articles, the size of headlines, and so forth. This has made me wonder whether I would really be satisfied with the Today's Paper feature. You can see the web version of this by going to There are subtle differences between the web and mobile experiences which I will touch on. Also, I should note that there was an old site called, which has been discontinued. This was an earlier attempt by the Times to simulate the day's paper. I think it failed because it would re-render the articles into print + pictures, and thus didn't have some of the really cool digital features that the Times has created over the years. There's also the replica edition, which I don't like because the user experience is awkward and requires a lot of clicks. Also, I want to note that there are distinct advantages to the electronic editions: It's easier to share an article; and you can read and participate in the comment section.

So here I want to describe some of the differences between the printed version of the Times, and the Today's Paper version, in particular the mobile version on an iPad. For this comparison, I'll be comparing the print and mobile editions for March 30, 2024.

  1. First off, when you get the printed Times, you can just start reading it immediately. On the web, you could bookmark the Today's Paper page. In the mobile experience, you have to navigate through the Sections button, then scroll to near the bottom, and select Today's Paper. Suggestion: Make it much easier to get to Today's Paper, and see the articles right away. If you have to, package it as a separate app.

  2. In the web version, the date is shown in a dropdown, and you can navigate to another day. Suggestions: (1) Show the date in the app on the mobile edition; (2) Bring the ability to see Today's Paper for any date to the mobile edition. This latter point is more important than it might seem. When I'm traveling for work or on vacation, sometimes I miss a day or two. I'd like to be able to catch up easily -- but I can't.

  3. Here's the top headline in the print edition: "Pandemic Effect: Absence From Schools is Soaring." Mobile: "Why School Absences have 'Exploded' Almost Everywhere." Suggestion: Make the headlines the same. While I'm at it, have the URL slug be the same. Why? So that I can be assured that I am talking about the same article as it was titled in print. Look, you're calling this feature Today's Paper. Do us a favor, and support those semantics -- follow the paper version. If you like, call it Today's Edition instead of Today's Paper. But at present, it's not Today's Paper.

  4. Here is my number one most critical concern: It is not easy to read the Times in its print sequence in the mobile edition. The main issue is that to get to the next article as offered in the print edition, you have to

    1. Scroll down so as to expose the back button (<).
    2. Tap the back button.
    3. Tap the next article (or scroll to it if it's below -- note that the iPad and iPhone experiences are a bit different in that on the phone all of the articles are on a list, while on the iPad the "next" article might be to the right of the one you just read. In any case, I don't want to scroll, tap, and tap.

    Suggestion: Please make it easier for me. Either add a Next button (that means the next button in the Today's Paper sequence), or let me swipe for the next article. Would this be so hard? The Washington Post supports a swipe (I doubt it's in the print edition order, though). Even the pretty crappy app for my local paper, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, provides for a swipe. The BBC app doesn't seem to support swipe. Perhaps there's some issue getting feature parity between the Times iOS and Android versions. I don't really care -- I think that on the iOS versions of Today's Paper, it should be super easy to get to the next article in print order.

  5. Last thing. The mobile edition seems incomplete, at least compared to the print edition. I am looking at p. 10 in Section C, which is the Cooking section with the headline "What to Make Next Week." Suggestion: Please, include it all. It's simply not Today's Paper unless everything is there. By the same token, p. A22 is the Weather. Similarly, where's the 36 Hours piece on Cape Town, South Africa?

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