New York Times Crosswords 2009

“Knock knock.” — “Who’s there?”

“The death of the newspaper industry.”

Anyone who saw the Colbert Report last week would have seen a hilarious, but very accurate piece on the struggles of the newspaper industry.

But the New York Times, already with an iPhone app for its news, introduces yet another content delivery format in its New York Times Crosswords 2009 app. With its ease of use and extensive archive, it could be a game changer for how people fill crosswords from the Old Gray Lady.

The archive is the crown jewel for this app, hands down, and it’s what really sets it apart from the competition. After registering with the Times, your account provides access to almost every puzzle dating back to 1997. At $9.99, that kind of bargain is hard to beat for crossword lovers. For the truly hardcore crossword nerds out there, a handful of tools help track all puzzles in progress, too. If you’re really frustrated (and you will be), the puzzles can be unlocked the next day.

Presentation is classic and simple, the puzzle looking as it would on paper, with clues at the bottom of the screen. Filling out the puzzle is as simple as clicking on a square and typing the appropriate word. Double-tap a square to switch between up and down. It can get a little frustrating sometimes trying to click the correct box, but thankfully the zoom function is enabled.

The app also features a fantastic “clues-only view,” which lists clues in order with their corresponding boxes. Not that going up and down the list is necessarily a good strategy, but it’s a great way to make that initial plunge into the always imposing New York Times Crossword.

Printing stuff on dead trees is quickly losing favor. But with innovative ways of content delivery like this app — cutting away the bulk of the paper and the need for a pen, all with an iPod soundtrack playing in the background — that doesn’t mean everything we love about newspapers has to die, too.

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