There is something compelling, even obsessive about a good crossword puzzle. And the New York Times is one of the best crosswords around. So finding out that they had put together an app for the iPhone was fantastic news. However, the price tag, a hefty $10, left a me little cautious. After all, once bitten, twice shy and while the NY Times had yet to bite, plenty of other applications had.
A quick glance through the online reviews assuaged some of my fears and I purchased the app.
It has been worth every penny so far.
The first, and most important note is that this is the NY Times Crossword, just as it appears in the newspaper, delivered straight to your phone every day. The puzzles are generally easier at the beginning of the week and the weekend puzzles are slightly larger. The puzzles are difficult but doable, the clues are clever, and the app is easy to use.
Although it does take a second to load, once it’s up, users are given options to Play, Connect, Rankings, Extras, and Help.
The Play option, naturally enough, takes users right into the main area of the application. From there, players can continue they puzzle they had been working on, choose the newest (daily) puzzle, or browse through the archives. Once inside a puzzle, the options are useful and clearly defined without an distractions or unnecessary information cluttering up the onscreen real estate.
Players can check letters, words, or complete puzzles, with the option to fully unlock each puzzle 24 hours after it has been released. Some of the more useful features include using the iPhone’s multi-touch option to resize the screen, making it easier to highlight the correct space, and being able to circle letters for easy reference. Other, lesser features, include being able to “write” with a pen or pencil, although both allow the player to change their answers, and reading a list of clues.
The Connect feature adds a bit of sociabilty to the application by letting users compare themselves to other users via a “Legends” page as well as maintaining a profile. The profile area lets users track their daily stats and provide a bit of information about themselves. Related to the Connect menu is the Rankings menu, allowing users to view online scores and to (again) check their daily stats.
The one negative is that at $9.99, the application is quite pricey. Especially when there are $.99 crossword puzzle applications available in the iTunes store. However, when you consider that a subscription to the print edition of the New York Times can run $50 a year, and even the online edition is $30, $10 for the crossword and the free NY Times news app seems like a bargain.
All told, the New York Times Crossword is a fantastic application for crossword lovers.