Developer: The New York Times Company
Price: Free
Version: 1.0
App Reviewed on: iPhone 4

iOS Integration Rating: ★★½☆☆
User Interface Rating: ★★★☆☆
Re-use / Replay Value Rating: ★½☆☆☆

Overall Rating: ★★☆☆☆

There is a potentially great new app to keep abreast of all the latest news leading up to the US presidential election in 2012 on the App Store. It’s by the New York Times, and provides iPhone users not only access to the NYT’s headline content, but (remarkably) also feeds from other news sources like The Washington Post, CNN, Fox News, and Politico.

The trouble is, for a free app, that’s all you get. The Times has done it again – created an appealing free news app whose most important features and information are anything but gratis. There are four tabs at the bottom: News – which has the free-to-read articles – and also Opinion, Election Guide and Multimedia. Tap to access these features – the only thing setting this app apart from any feed generic reader – and there is that now infamous paywall.

Only subscribers to the NYT are allowed access to this content. And we’re not talking about a small in-app purchase; the bulk of the content is limited to those who pony up big bucks for a full digital or print subscription. That said, this is a NYT app; I wasn’t surprised. I picked up this review because I have a current subscription and hoped to be able to tell others who do what the app had on offer. The trouble is, after several successful log-ins the content was all still locked. I say successful because my credentials were accepted, but at every tap, the subscribe page popped up blocking my view.

I jumped right over to Newsrack to see if perhaps my subscription has lapsed, but it’s fine. So aside from the best bits being hidden from the majority of users, even those who love the Times enough to pay for it – at least this one news junkie – get to spend most of the time looking at interesting headlines, and teasers of videos and sideshows, all with a little lock icon mockingly keeping us out.

The pity is the Election Guide alone would make this app worth having, even for a small fee. There is a primary calendar, GOP debate guide, polling data – or so I assume based on the menu, which is as far as I was able to get.

The Times has put together a decent looking interface, but there is nothing in the app that isn’t readily available elsewhere, including in the free version of their main app. Even at no charge, unless one needs The New York Times’ most basic coverage to sport a patriotic icon and splashscreen, this one is a miss.

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