Posted December 7th, 2010 by Kyle Flanigan Our Rating: :: SMART DESIGN
Popular Science+ released an iPad edition of its popular print magazine earlier this year. With emphasis on a smart design and a few unique twists along the way, the developers have created an excellent reading experience. To top it all off, the content makes for fascinating reading.
No one has ever accused media mogul Richard Branson of playing it safe, and today the multi-millionaire shook things up again by announcing the debut of Project, an iPad-exclusive magazine. While Project will publish a monthly “issue” it won’t be a bunch of static content like subscribers would get with a traditional periodical. Instead, the app will morph and change over the course of the month, adding new content and incorporating content from readers and bloggers. For instance, the mag is currently hosting a Facebook contest which is inviting users to redesign the front cover. The entries will be available for download in issue three and the winner will get to design a crowdsourced cover early next year.
If the idea seems hard to wrap your head around, that’s because it is, and even Branson had trouble figuring it all out at first. “When my daughter Holly, who is Special Projects Manager at Virgin Group, first told me that she had agreed to sponsor an iPad-only magazine idea from one of our young entrepreneurs, Giovanni Donaldson, I thought she was talking double Dutch!” he said. “It wasn’t until Anthony, Gio and Holly showed me the amazing, innovative editorial and advertising in PROJECT that I ‘got’ how groundbreaking digital publishing can be. To be frank it blew me away.”
The project is being overseen by former FHM editor-in-chief Anthony Noguera, who has big plans for the publication. “I must be the luckiest editor alive,” Noguera said. “To be given the opportunity to create a magazine that is completely unique and innovative, to work with like-minded journalists, contributors and advertisers who are just as passionate and excited as I am about PROJECT has been inspiring. I am proud of PROJECT. Proud of what we have achieved and delighted to have played a small part in determining what will become the future of what we as readers expect from the magazines of tomorrow. Today, PROJECT has set the standard.”
Project is available now for $2.99 an issue, so go ahead and take a peek if you’re curious. What do you think? Is this the future of magazines, or is Richard Branson just throwing away a lot of money on a really crazy venture?
It’s hard not to envision a day when magazines are all made primarily for digital devices like the iPad. The form factor is right, digital gives all sorts of multimedia freedom, and I’m sure publishers are dying to cut down on production costs.
In what is surely the first of many, Sideways Magazine is a new start up that is designed and written specifically for the digital tablet. Unlike traditional print media, or even most of the stuff on the iPad, Sideways tells its stories with a blend of “video, audio, photos, text and even maps.” For example, the current issue (October) features a map based story by Professor Dinty Moore, director of creative writing at Ohio University, about his run-ins with famed author George Plimpton. In the article, each location that you travel through in the map offers up a new tale in the story, turning a typical story article into more of an interactive experience.
The issue also includes:
* Special spy gear advertising section with deep links to retailers, enabling instant purchase of advertised items
* A look at which colleges have the best fictional alumni
* Interactive guide to chili peppers and hot sauces with do-it-yourself recipe
* Feature article on how social media improves writing
* Overview of tablets being released as rivals to the iPad
* Feature on best ways to watch video on the iPad
“We created Sideways to demonstrate the iPad’s multimedia capabilities and deliver features that are immersive and engaging in ways that traditional magazines are not,” said Jim Sweeney, editor-in-chief of Sideways. “We continue to evolve the publishing platform for mobile devices with the October issue.”
Each issue of Sideways is available, in part, for free in the App Store and can be fully unlocked via in app purchase. Check it out, I think you’ll like it.
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.
PDFs for iPad?
Many publishers have simply translated their magazines to the iPad by making them into PDFs of the print version. Some, like Wired, have added custom UI layers and slight multimedia additions to spruce up their publications. The vertical and horizontal reading interface present in magazines like Wired show that publishers are trying to think out of the box, but they haven’t quite succeeded yet. Unfortunately, the current workflow may not work. A series by Ad Age this week shows that magazine publishers are taking the content from their print editions and dropping them into templates for the iPad. What would happen if magazines were custom designed for the iPad? If the content was specifically designed to take advantage of the iPad’s features? I hope we’ll be able to find out in the coming months.
I’ve reviewed six iPad magazine apps so far, each with their own set of pros and cons:
Wired: An interesting first attempt that falls short due to download size, quirky navigation, and its underlying architecture. Time: Interesting effort tying live content (News Feed) with magazine content but this is essentially just a PDFed magazine. Newsweek: The iPad-only edition it includes makes boastful claims, but the app itself can’t compete with the others listed here. GQ: The men’s interest magazine’s first iPad edition includes a bizarre navigation system but some useful innovations. Zinio for iPad: The popular and experienced magazine digitizers bring their platform to the iPad and make it one of the few viable options for those interested in magazines. Popular Science+: Like Wired’s app, bizarre navigation makes Pop Sci difficult to enjoy on Bonnier’s Mag+ platform.
So far, it appears that even lackluster efforts are producing success for publishers. There is clearly more potential for the medium and I’m sure content producers aren’t resting. I can’t wait to see what comes next.
It seemed like the much talked up Wired Magazine for iPad, made in collaboration with Adobe, had hit a major problem when Apple banned Flash-based apps from the App Store, but now it has arrived and with Adobe’s help.
Rumor has it that Wired and Adobe had to rewrite the app to comply with Apple’s Objective C requirements after Apple blocked the use of 3rd party creation tools, namely Adobe’s new Flash tools in CS5. Today, the app has gone live on the App Store and, it seems, all the blood sweat and tears were worth it. Wired Magazine for iPad looks to have set a benchmark among other publishers who have rushed out digital versions of their apps and uses interactive features as well as traditional page viewing techniques to show off the magazine’s content in an exciting new way.
The app does weigh in at a hefty 500Mb so you’re not going to be able to keep too many copies on your iPad at one time, however, if all magazines follow this model and perform this well, it looks like the digital publishing revolution, hailed when the iPad was still just a rumor, may have well and truly begun.
The video below is Wired’s official video for its app that, ironically, requires Flash.
On Monday, you may have seen the release Zinio Magazine Reader. A slick looking virtual kiosk for everything magazine on the iPhone. The app features a whole bunch of online digital magazines for purchase, and browsing them looks to be fairly simple. I’ve arranged with Zinio to get my hands on a copy, so hopefully I can show you that in-detail shortly. In the meantime though, there’s one publication which has been available on Zinio’s library since August 2004 and which I’ve been waiting to come to iPhone, and that’s MacUser.
If your a Mac or Design fanatic like me, and happen to live in the UK, the likelihood is you’ve heard of MacUser. Originally started by Dennis Publishing in 1985, and later licensed to Ziff-Davis Publishing for use in the rest of the world, MacUser is a fortnightly publication which targets mac users who are specifically involved in the design industry. Due to licensing issues though, unfortunately only the UK edition remains. Currently led by Editor, Nik Rawlinson the magazine is packed with tips, tricks, news, rumors, reviews and general Mac and Apple-related goodness. Until today, the publication has been available one of two ways. Online, via the official MacUser site with each issue browsable via an embedded flash widget, and on glossy paper in stores. Each issue of the publication is available for as little as £3.95, and alongside this it’s also offered as a £17.95 6-month subscription which bags you 6 issues.
Yesterday, MacUser launched on the iPhone, providing full high-resolution versions of their digital mags in a standalone app. Controlled via in-app purchases, your initial 59p purchase of the app will bag you the latest 100-page issue of MacUser Mazagine, free. Afterward, each fortnightly issue will set you back £1.79, or you can opt for the 6-month subscription as with the web version.
Opening the app for the first time will show you an overview of the 7 previous issues, and the most current issue displayed in CoverFlow. As far as reading and panning goes, the app pretty much features the same interface as their current flash widget, the only difference being it’s adapted for multi-touch. Each issue can be read in either portrait or landscape. Turn your phone back to portrait, and you’ll get a list view.
There are five tabs along the bottom; Library, Bookmarks, Search, Settings and Downloads. Your library tab lists the issues you’ve both downloaded, or that are currently able for purchase. While reading you can bookmark pages for later viewing via the app’s pop-up menu, activated by a sharp tap on the screen. While on an issue you can search for a keyword, term or phrase and the app will find and return the pages those show up on. One tap, and you’re reading again. Need to manage downloads, head on over to the ‘Downloads’ tab. Here in true App Store fashion, you’ll see downloads in progress.
The app is a little janky right now, even to the point where graphical glitches are noticeably present. I recommend waiting for an update, but it definitely has potential.