Version Reviewed: 1.0
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Chris Anderson, Wired's editor, set high standards when he said that Wired's tablet app was "what we've been waiting for for 15 years." Their video demo that followed set high hopes for their app. They had some struggles along the way, with Apple's spat with Adobe interfering with the release of their app, but this past week Wired finally hit the iPhone and made quite an impression, selling 24,000 copies in its first 24 hours on the App Store and occupying the App Store's #1 spot for a while.
So does the app meet its promise as the future of magazines? Not quite. Wired has done a little to spice up the traditional magazine beyond adding a new navigation layer. Users scroll horizontally to move between articles and vertically to read articles themselves. They've included some multimedia, like special clips of Toy Story 3, audio for the reviews they do, and some graphics for features like a catalog of Mars missions. These are a nice touch but don't do much to actually revolutionize the magazine's experience. In fact, navigation may be a little more confusing than before - users may take a while to get used to scrolling down to browse through individual articles, especially when there's no indicator that articles continue on the next page.
The app has received lots of criticism. InterfaceLab, for instance, pointed out that the app itself is over 500MB. That's a huge app and takes a while to download. With the restrictions on 3G downloading, it's not even possible to do it without a Wi-Fi hotspot. So much for the logic of downloading an app while on the go. The same post revealed that Wired for iPad, much like the CD-ROM magazines that were supposed to save journalism in the 90s, is a series of PNGs instead of a fully interactive magazine in HTML5.
Adobe just announced that the tools Wired used to create their magazine will soon be available to the general public and other magazine creators. Hopefully, some of them will give more thought to layout and design and experiment with new forms of interaction for the iPad. Wired has taken a terrific first step with this app - it's an attempt to re-engineer the magazine, but instead it adds multimedia here and there for something that doesn't feel completely put together. I look forward to seeing what Wired can do for their next issue.