"The Daily," the first news application written and designed specifically for the iPad, launched Wednesday morning -- and may turn decades of traditional publishing on its ear.

Written for and available solely on the Apple iPad, the revolutionary service was unveiled by News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch and Eddy Cue, Apple's vice president of Internet services, at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City at 11:00 a.m. It went live in the Apple App Store at noon, and features a variety of new technologies that were previously unthinkable, Murdoch said at the unveiling. 

"360 degree photos, graphics that respond to the touch, and other innovations that are unthinkable in print and television," Murdoch said. "Simply put, the iPad demands that we completely reinterpret our craft."

"we're entering a remarkable age, a digital renaissance," he said. Many people who had seen The Daily in advance were mainly in awe.

"It’s got an amazing look and feel,” Mike Vorhaus, the president of media consulting firm Magid Advisors, told The New York Times, comparing it to a “glossy magazine.”

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Peter Kafka, media watcher for All Things Digital, said early viewers compared it to the Daily Prophet, the magical newspaper read by Harry Potter and his wizard pals.

Others describe it in less glowing terms, saying it was similar to existing iPad magazine apps such as Hearst’s Popular Mechanics app and Conde Nast’s Wired app. But those apps feature content that comes out monthly, not daily, and largely repurpose information from a magazine into a different format.

And that's what makes The Daily such a game-changer for news: The concept of a recurring news service tailored for the iPad's millions of users (and automatically charged to a subscriber's credit card through the iTunes service) is something the entire publishing industry will be watching while holding its collective breath.

To facilitate such a service and delivery, The Daily brings with it a key new feature, a push subscription function. The Daily was set to debut in mid-January, but News Corp. reportedly delayed the launch to work out kinks in the subscription service -- probably due to this new functionality.

Magazine and newspaper publishers hope tablets like the iPad and Samsung's popular Galaxy Tab will spark consumer interest and revive a business widely acknowledged to be suffering from declining circulation figures and advertising revenue.

Many newspapers, for instance, are experimenting with models that require some form of payment to access online news as an additional revenue stream to advertising, Reuters reported. Earlier this week, personalized news service Ongo (funded by The New York Times, The Washington Post and Gannett) launched in an attempt to get readers to pay for online news. The subscription service is accessible through web browsers, smartphones and tablets.

Prior to the launch, News Corp. officials remained largely tight-lipped about The Daily's details. The company refused to say how many subscribers it would need to label The Daily a success, how many editors it has hired to write the unique stories that will appear nowhere but on the iPad, or how much money the company has spent so far developing the service.

The service will power The Daily's free website, www.thedaily.com, which will have a sample of perhaps 10 percent of the newspaper’s stories, Kafka reported. 

The tech world waited eagerly in the days and hours leading up to the launch. 

"A lot of people have iPads, so they'll be looking forward to it, they want to read The Daily," said Lance Ulanoff, editor in chief of PCMag.com. The Daily is available for the iPad and will be offered on additional tablets and in international markets over the coming months, the company said.

Kafka also noted the similarities between The Daily and the traditional models for newspapers: "It's most definitely produced using a newspaper model," he wrote. "Six sections, written once a day -- the Daily team is particularly excited about its sports coverage -- and delivered in the wee hours of the morning."

"The Daily will allow for some midday updates, but it’s really designed to land with a digital thud on your virtual doorstep, just like the newspapers Murdoch has loved all his life," Kafka wrote.

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