For those looking to brush up on crossword skills while waiting in line at CVS, The New York Times has added tiny puzzles to its iPhone app. The timed 5-by-5 grids take just minutes to complete for a mediocre puzzler, perfect for a short commute, and a quick and dirty way to feel good about your puzzling skills.
Unlike the rest of the app, whose daily Times grids are only available to those who pay a whopping $40 a year, or $6.99 a month for access, the mini puzzles are delightfully free. For now, the mini-puzzles are only available for iPhone and iPad.
In an attempt to capitalize on one of its biggest constituencies, the Gray Lady has been revamping its digital puzzle offerings. The Times has 200,000 crossword subscribers, a source told BuzzFeed, compared to its 831,000 digital subscribers, as of July. In May, the Times launched an updated version of its free-to-download crossword app, including a “Play Anywhere” feature that allows players to continue the same puzzle across devices.
Most people won’t need the “Play Anywhere” feature for the puzzlettes; they should only take a few minutes. But the mini games, for some, will be the gateway drug to paying for the full suite of Times puzzle offerings. After a few days of free, but ultimately too-small grids, puzzlers will be wanting more, which you can get on the same app…for an additional $40 a year. Well played, New York Times.