I had some time on Friday afternoon so I let iTunes churn over installing iOS5 on the iPad(2). Installation went smoothly and on Friday evening I got to play. I couldn't understand the point of Messages at first, until I figured out that messages is actually MSN Messenger. Notifications work and are reasonably smooth, but so what. iOS5 broke Stanza, so I've switched to Bluefire Reader, which seems like a good substitute.
So far, so meh. the caveat is that I have not yet installed iOS5 on the iPhone, where these features might make more sense. The remaining point of interest was Newsstand - Apple's attempt to do for journalism what iTunes did for the music industry. There's been a lot of publicity around The Guardian app, so that's where I started.
Oh dear, The Guardian Newsstand app is poor, a triumph of style over content. There's so little content compared with the print edition or the website. But worse than that, the app felt like reading the paper edition sealed behind a sheet of glass. There are no comments, no multimedia, no sharing with online services - or at least, sharing is patchy, with SendTo buttons appearing and disappearing on the same article. WTF?
(Update: Stephen Curry shares some interesting background information here)
Next, I tried the Metro. Although the standard of journalism is what you would expect, the app is much better. The information density is just right and the sharing buttons are there.
Finally, I had a look at The Daily, Murdoch's heavily-subsidised cry for help. American, right-wing and even with the content frequently making me wince, this was still the best app of the three.
Regularly updated (compared with once a day for the other two, multimedia fully and seamlessly integrated, and by far the best sharing and discussion features.
But would I pay for any of them?
Guys, you're in trouble.