iPad: What Is Wrong With This Picture?

Updated! See after the break.

I’m finally able to watch the Stevenote video. Thanks to a kind soul who ignored Apple’s Copyright and posted it on YouTube, where I can rip it to an MP4 file that this crap PC can actually handle and let me watch. (Yes, Apple, I know I can get it from you for free via iTunes — but it’s 1.05GB and my PC can’t handle the strength of that gorgeous hi-res video!)

This is a slow process. I’ve been watching for over an hour and am less than halfway through. Because I’m analyzing as I watch.

The New York Times just came out and preened over its head-up-their-ass app. I noticed something that’s wrong throughout it. I can’t say yet if it’s only The New York Times app that’s wrong or if this is an issue at the heart of the iPad itself.

Anyway, look at this picture. See if you can see what’s very, very wrong here. Ignore the blur. It should still be evident. I saw it right off. Leave a Comment.

Here’s a similar portion of the front page of the print edition of The New York Times as a clue:

And Brannon caught it in the Comments:

Does it have to do with the ALL left alignment? No force justified?


The Mac is known for its typographical ability. Why is that missing in that app? Why is everything ragged right? Look at the video. Even when the columns are wide enough for justification and hyphenation, that’s not present.

Back in the early 1980s, hyphenation tables were a huge deal. What happened since?

21 Responses to iPad: What Is Wrong With This Picture?

  1. mj says:

    Nope, you lost me.

  2. You mean more than “Hey, that’s what my iPhone looks like!”? It’s a little weird to see a headline spanning two columns of text. The bezel’s ginormous.

    I mean, really, I think you’d get a more specific answer if you asked what isn’t wrong with the picture.

  3. G says:

    Where are the links?

  4. Wiebe says:

    Err.. It still looks an awful lot like a traditional newspaper to me, if that’s what you mean?

  5. Brannon says:

    Does it have to do with the ALL left alignment? No force justified?

  6. PIF says:

    Not a clue… how bout posting a spoiler at the end of the articel?

  7. For one thing, all the pics of apps on the Apple website show a top menu bar. Th e only exceptions are iBook and the Contacts app, which have book-like UIs. Also, it’s not running in Safari, and it doesn’t look like the Times iPhone app. I’d guess this is either an iPad-specific version of the NYT app, or an Apple designed newspaper/magazine viewer that they haven’t announced yet.

  8. Mark says:

    No clue, but I wanted to put a comment here so I’ll get a notification when you reveal your answer! Curiousity killed the cat.

  9. G says:

    It has to be the lack of links surely. This is a newspaper, the whole point of going digital is to add depth and color via additional media and linking. Might as well be a high quality image file without that.

  10. Mark says:

    I think that ragged-right makes for easier reading. Justified text is only window dressing and makes reading more difficult. (IMHO)

  11. kirasaw says:

    I prefer Left Alignment. I have always thought justification used by newspapers was silly.

  12. Fully justified test looks like crap at low resolutions, especially on narrow columns like that. The iPad is, what, 130 dpi or so? Newsprint has fully formed type, you would need 600-1200 dpi to produce correspondingly high quality text.

    If it were any other paper I’d also suggest they probably want to rethink the serif typeface for a screen font… :)

  13. Ray says:

    I have no idea what the writer is griping about. If you look at the article below the picture from The New York Times print article, what do you see… an article printed in ragged right.

    If the print article is not consistent… who cares, certainly not The New York Times.

  14. Ivan Jose says:

    The developer is the one who defines the text alignment, not the browser or the device, so is not Apple fault.

    • mikecane says:

      I’ve been told that the 3.2 SDK contains more text tools, so it’s highly likely the text of the NYT app can be improved.

      OTOH, I don’t like the app at all to begin with, so prettier type won’t sway me.

  15. richfinck says:

    Looks like the abortion edition of NYT. Front page is always 6 columns wide.

  16. Jeff says:

    I notice your blog entry itself is left-aligned, no justification (tho comments are left-just). Is there some determination being made that non-justified text is easier to read on-screen? or just easier to flow on the fly w/out justify? If none of that is on the mark, I would still wonder why you chose left-no just for your blog text and left-just for your comments. And how that relates to what is wrong with the iPad screen of the Times, which to me does not need to look like the print version of the Times any more than a blog post looks like a newspaper column. (And not a fan or purchaser of the iPad here, just curious from the design standpoint.)

  17. vida says:

    Whether this is an app or the NYT website, it’s all HTML. The app is most likely using WebKit to render the page. As others have noted, justification is a CSS setting determined by the site/app designer.

    I really don’t believe there’s anything more to read into this.

  18. stefn says:

    As an old book art director, I say thank god they don’t try to hyphenate and justify. Ragged right on! I say.

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