inessential by Brent Simmons

On The Daily

I’m bowled over by The Daily.

There are easy criticisms to make: the carousel is a bit slow, transitions between pages sometimes seem laggy, etc. Whatever. I’m not terrifically surprised that a 1.0 app has room for improvement.

Maybe I’m speaking more as a fellow developer than a potential The Daily subscriber, and maybe I’m aware that some of my friends worked on it (and I probably can’t say who) — but I am, nonetheless, impressed.

There are plenty of apps out there that do less than a single page of the The Daily does. It very much rewards exploration — I was delighted when I found the 360 panorama of Venice, for instance.

Is this the future? Yes. Well, the future will be faster and better, sure, but this is one of the first big sights to see.

What makes me sweat — I can’t think about it too much, because I’ve already spent the last couple years trying not to think about it too much — is what the whole thing looks like under-the-hood. How do you specify the different content and interactions and layouts? You can’t just take snapshots from InDesign and push them out: you need something almost like a Hypercard stack (Hyperpad?) that says what should happen when you tap here and rotate and swipe and so on. They had to create an entire platform for this.

And that’s no small achievement. I’ve spent years thinking about it, dreaming about it, fantasizing about it — which is probably only enough to have a small notion of the difficulties involved and no real concept of what it really takes to create a platform and production system like this.

I would not at all be surprised if a product appears out of this, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it makes a ton of money.

Update: Jonathan Wight pointed me to Inkling as an example of a similar platform. Looks good.