Just over three years ago, The New York Times announced their Times Reader application, which I enjoyed using on my touchscreen UMPC. The publisher worked with Microsoft to develop and deliver the electronic version of the daily publication, but as they say: The times, they are a-changing. What used to be a Windows-only application first built on .NET technology and later on Silverlight is now a cross-platform title running on Adobe AIR.
I first caught wind of the new version this morning from Serge Jespers, who is an Adobe platform evangelist. Since version two of the Times Reader is a free AIR app, you can run it on a Windows, Mac or Linux computer. I installed it this morning on a netbook running the Windows 7 RC, and it works extremely well. The text reflows nicely on the small screen, and it offers the truest look and feel of the newspaper I’ve seen yet. You can easily navigate through content with arrow keys on your keyboard, and the great search feature is still there.
The best feature, in my opinion, is also a carry-over from the prior version and may be the most compelling reason to use the Times Reader instead of hitting up The New York Times web site: offline access. The software is capable of downloading the newest content when you have an Internet connection, and you can still read that content if you go offline. To save battery life, I find myself turning off my Wi-Fi radio more and more, while mobile and offline access like this is a huge help for that situation.
To fully enjoy the new Times Reader, you’ll need a paid subscription at $3.45 per week, but even non-subscribers can enjoy the front page, news updates and my personal fave: the news in pictures. In fact, here’s where the new Times Reader really shines over another electronic version, i.e.: the Amazon Kindle. Using the new Times Reader to view the pictures in full color offers a far more immersive experience.