When it was released in December, the tablet demo of Sports Illustrated (see below) set off a firestorm online. The new SI promised interactivity, live sports scores, and the great sports coverage readers have come to expect, all wrapped in a beautifully designed application. Since the video’s introduction, the iPad has been released and dozens of magazine properties have taken their brands and content to the App Store. Few have succeeded in matching the design or functionality promised by SI’s initial prototype. Now, with the official release of the Sports Illustrated app, the video has finally come to life.

Delivering on Old Promises
Fortunately, Sports Illustrated’s app includes most of the features that were promised in the initial tablet demonstration. It far outperforms the official Time Magazine app, also published by Time Inc. One of the coolest features of the app is the “wheel,” a feature that enables sharing, emailing, player stats, and related photos and articles to be accessed simply by holding a finger down on an article. This means, however, that there’s no traditional copying and pasting available in the app. The share feature luckily makes up for this shortcoming,

Live Scores and Articles

Like Time Magazine’s application, the Sports Illustrated app also integrates nicely with live content from SI’s website to ensure that articles and issues are never out of date. Individual articles can pull up “related articles” or “related stats” from the aforementioned wheel. Better yet, users can get live stats and articles from SI.com directly within the app.

One of the Few Standouts
The Sports Illustrated app is an all star in the App Store. That said, it’s not difficult with the lackluster efforts from the magazine industry thus far. The SI app has great navigation and doesn’t bother with any of the more bizarre vertical and horizontal reading schemes. Instead, it sticks to the basics, presenting great content and adding interactivity and new features only where they’re of use to the reader. The SI app should serve as a great example to publishers of what their magazines should be like when ported to the iPad.

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