I spent a little time playing The New York Times’s Times Reader 2.0 this evening and it’s pretty nice. It gives what appears to be a full copy of the day’s Times in an easy to browse format. Cut and paste works. And doing the crossword puzzle on it was fun. If I were planning a plane flight, I’d definitely use this for offline access to a newspaper.
(This was also the first Adobe Air application I’ve used. I was quite impressed with how smooth the Air experience is and how zippy and close to native the application feels.)
One flaw: the search is based on substrings, not full words, which makes it feel very low precision. Searching for [star trek] in today’s paper showed results about “states to start” and “Representative Pete Stark.” But there are so few documents in a given day’s paper that search probably isn’t a very big issue.
But, showing a newspaper’s typical cluelessness about the web, the Times Reader doesn’t provide a way to get a URL for the article you’re reading. That’s inane. This is 2009. They want people to link to their articles. They want people to tweet them, to share them, to post them on Facebook. The Times knows this: they have share buttons on all articles on their website. The Reader even has a way to send a link to an article to an email address. And they link to “Times Topics” pages from inside the articles, so it’s clear they know how to embed URLs properly. But as far as I can tell, there is no way to just click a button and go to the article in a web browser, so that I can just share it. Instead, if I’m reading something I want to pass on, I’ll need to search for it again on the web to find a URL.
Do they just not want to participate in the conversation?