New York Times audio app goes beyond podcasting

By Jodie Hopperton


Los Angeles, California, United States


As you may be aware, The New York Times recently launched their standalone audio app for subscribers. I’m really interested to see how much traction it gets. It’s clear they are pursuing a strategy that focuses on owned and operated platforms, and Publisher AG Sulzberger recently told me they would only be on platforms where it made sense for them, i.e. they see a return. 

Now that they are producing so much audio — not just podcasts — maybe it makes sense for them to have a home for the audio fans, as well as baked into the main product. 

Anyway, today we’re not talking about business models. I want to do a breakdown in terms of product, UX, and features. 

The onboarding is straightforward, visually clear, similar to that of Medium, Apple News, or Spotify. Each screen has four elements:

  • Clear images demonstrate the feature.

  • Short title in bold, with description below.

  • Four dots show how far though the onboarding you are.

  • Back/next buttons to guide you through.

The onboarding process for The New York Times' Audio App.
The onboarding process for The New York Times' Audio App.

Let’s look at the app tab by tab. The home screen seems very reminiscent of the NYT main app home screen, presumably purposefully so that consumers feel a familiarity and ease of navigation. There is a mix of scroll for sections and swipe for episodes within each section.

Each section has scroll and swipe options.
Each section has scroll and swipe options.

Each “card” shows the logo and title of the section, title of the episode, and length of time. The + allows you to follow episodes. And the three dots next to it take you to the extended menu as below. 

Information on each episode.
Information on each episode.

Now let’s breakdown the other three areas in the navigation (see below). Each tab has a clean, clear layout while the visuals mix cover art, section images, and text. It’s clear to recognise individual shows, such as the flagship The Daily and Hard Fork. “My audio” allows for rearrangement of episodes as a personal playlist with the standard touch and hold to move an episode up or down the queue.

The app's navigation section allows listeners to easily find individual shows.
The app's navigation section allows listeners to easily find individual shows.

Once listening, it has standard audio features, such as eight different playback speeds from 0.8 to 3x, skip back 15 seconds, skip forward 30 seconds, previous episode, next episode etc. 

There are two things in here that you may not notice at first glance:

  • Firstly, this goes well beyond podcast. This app has a lot of narrated articles. There is a whole section called “reporter reads” that you can follow. 
  • And, related to that, this isn’t just New York Times Company articles. You can find audio articles on the aptly named “The Magazine Stand” section from Rolling Stone and The Atavist, and there is a whole section devoted to the popular show This American Life. I wonder if this is an area that will be expanded out. 

As you would expect from The New York Times, their audio app is elegant and seamless. It’ll be interesting to see how this develops. 

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About Jodie Hopperton

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