New York Times Now app review

In a word: fantastic.

The New York Times did a great job with this app for a first release. In an odd coincidence, my Lower East Side neighbor Clayton Patterson is featured as the first story. He’s moving to Austria after 30 years in the neighborhood.




Visual & UX Design

The app is bold and beautiful. The images are retina-ready and crisp. Text is razor sharp and there is not too much of it when you first open the app and browse stories. The headers lock to the top which is neat since the images are tall and the headlines are only two lines; it’s nice to have that reference there to see where you are. Situational awareness is a key thing that many apps get wrong.

The shades of gray like Read Time are a nice touch, as is the standard iOS 7 blue colored icons. The save icon is just what you’d expect it to be.

Basic navigation

The app contains three main screens, which you can swipe from right to left:

3paneIt works well.



App transitions are what separate good apps from great apps. The designers did a slick job with their transitions here. Smooth and grippy.



Rather than have tabs or menu targets, the Times compresses where you were to give more room to where you are now. This is not immediately apparent and takes a second to get used to. But I had fun watching it.

See how News tucks behind the Times icon? Fantastic. That’s attention to detail.




IMG_1738One minor critique is their choice for the Our Picks icon. I know they probably sweated over it for a while, but an arrow was the wrong choice in my view. The mental model and current convention for these types of arrows are for maps or sharing. I didn’t expect it to do what I thought it did when I tapped it. My mental model did not match theirs. Not the end of the world.

The last section is Saved. Here’s where things got a little strange:



This is a great null set or empty starter screen. Their text is nice: “This space feels empty” so go fill it right? The problem is, their instructions don’t work all that well. What’s an article summary? The text? The title? They know what an article summary is, but I don’t. Also, do I need to create an account or login to save? It’s confusing.

Going back to the list of articles, I press down and hold on various spots:



This does not let me save the article. Other articles I pressed down and saw it:



So its probably just a bug they need to work out. I’m not sure I would have released this without more QA as if there is an article I really want to save and can’t that would certainly be frustrating.

In Summary

This is a great app, a huge win for NYT and I’ll be using it a lot to browse news. I have a feeling my news junkie habit will force me to return back to the meatier, main NYT App, but we’ll see.

Congrats NYT on a great app.

Support this awesome bluetooth / smartphone powered light Kickstarter

Wow, I am super impressed with this project. Co-founders Billy Lindeman and Eric Barch really did their product / user experience homework. It’s 100% made in USA and its based out of my hometown of Flint, Michigan.

What is it? It’s this light that is remotely controlled via your smartphone. No big deal right? Well, hold on, this light has a few tricks up its sleeve, my favorite being this one:

It uses the weather data from your smartphone to visualize the weather outside! Or anywhere. Check it out!

It also is sound sensitive and can be used as a disco / club light.


The levels of complex lighting patterns astounded me:



Frankly the uses are endless.  I won’t go on. Check out the Kickstarter project for more details. I already bought one, and might buy several more.

Rest in Peace Frankie Knuckles

Frankie Knuckles

Frankie was one of the originators of house music. His influence cannot be underestimated on today’s music.


There is a pretty good documentary with him in it called Maestro.

Carl Sagan’s son is a lovely human being

Nick Sagan is Carl Sagan’s son and from time to time we chat on Twitter. Tonight on Cosmos there was a scene where you see a shadow of his father putting a young Neil deGrasse Tyson on the bus from Ithaca back to NYC. They only show shadows of the characters. I wondered how hard it might be for Nick to see something like that, so I asked him about it.

He had a wonderful response.