The official New York Times app for iPhone was updated yesterday to include a series of new features and more content, bringing it at the same level of functionality of the iPad version, last updated in December 2010. The new version 3.0 doesn’t make any mention of the NYT’s upcoming paywall implementation or Apple’s in-app subscriptions, with the App Store description still reporting that New York Times for iPhone will be “free until early 2011″. We assume another update will be released shortly, to enable the paid subscriptions that the NYT is about to launch for its website, smartphone and tablet apps.
Navigation has been improved, enabling swipes to switch between articles — only on the iPhone 4. The process is quite smooth overall, and definitely helps navigating the app with touch. The app itself got more content thanks to the addition of blogs, which are now part of regular coverage. As for breaking news, those of you who care about being alerted in real-time can now enjoy the new push notification system that will alert you of major news events even if the New York Times app is closed or running in the background.
Whilst sections can still be accessed from the rightmost tab in the bottom toolbar, a new Favorites tab next to it allows you to bookmark sections and save articles you want to read later. We would like to see some sort of online sync with the iPad app, where sections and articles that you bookmark on the iPhone are automatically imported on the iPad, and vice versa. The UI is elegant as usual, and now the app is even more “visual” thanks to the addition of photos and videos within articles. These photos and videos got their own section as well (which can be bookmarked) and they play just fine using Apple’s default media player, although I haven’t been able to test their support for AirPlay streaming yet.
All in all, The New York Times 3.0 for iPhone is a nice update with lots more content and the interesting idea of Favorites, but we know the app will soon go under another update to enable the paywall. Or perhaps the functionality has already been built into the app and the developers are just waiting for March 28 to flip the switch. In the meantime, you can get the app for free here.