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Magazines on the iPad: A Round Up

Posted by Zach Sims on June 10th, 2010

The iPad has been heralded by many as the future of magazines and the savior of the publishing industry. Magazines like Newsweek are losing circulation and being purchased at fire sale prices. The iPad provides a blank canvas for publishers, content producers, and anyone who wants to innovate. The problem is that the opportunity has not yet been realized.

I remember being thrilled at the prospect of iPad magazines even before the device itself was announced. Sports Illustrated has showcased a great teaser video of their application, and Bonnier's Mag+ platform also appeared to have potential. The arrival of the iPad shows unrealized potential. Reading apps, like iBooks and Stanza, have shown great ability at translating the book reading experience for a tablet.

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.

A Roundup
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.

WIRED Magazine Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Zach Sims on June 4th, 2010
Our rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar :: NOT QUITE WIRED FOR THE IPAD
WIRED's first take on iPad magazines is ambitious but ultimately falls short of its goal of redefining the magazine for the digital age.
Read The Full Review »

Friday Five for May 28th, 2010

Posted by Jeff Scott on May 28th, 2010

Bonnie is away this weekend, so I thought I'd jump in and present the weekly favorite five. We've got a mixed bag this week with everything from a triple-A game to a personal medical app.

Splinter Cell: Conviction
Another week, another blockbuster game comes to the iPhone and iPod Touch, this time from Gameloft. This week we have the iPhone port of Splinter Cell: Conviction. This game has a lot of the splashy effects of the console version including the text projected on the scenery that everyone is so impressed with, the mark and shoot, etc. And of course there is all of the stealthy goodness. Grab it now, but don't let anyone see you.

Wired Magazine
Get 'yer future of magazine publishing here. Fresh off the tubes. Wired magazine showed off their idea of the future of magazine publishing would be a few months ago and now they have delivered it. All 500 MB of it. There are embedded movies, connected links, and interactive illustrations. But at $4.99, it's crazy expensive. Digital should never be much more than print - and this is 6x the usual $10/year subscription cost of Wired. They need to do something about that, but the app itself is pretty great - I could get used to reading magazines like this. But, only if they are comparable in price.

Cubed Rally Racer
We got word about Cubed Rally Racer last week and we were impressed with the video. It looked like a fun casual racer. Well it has now been approved and it's as fun as we'd hoped. You race your boxy race car around various courses avoiding traps, hitting jumps, and collecting red gas cans. Check this one out.

Web MD
iPad loving hypochondriacs rejoice! WebMD has released a great iPad app providing lots of the functionality of their website, butmade it portable. The app includes features like symptom checker, drug database and pill identifier, and basic first aid information. A great app to have available at your fingertips.

The Facility
This mystery game was created as a project by students at Tufts University. The game has no, and needs no explanation except swipe or tap the sides to move between rooms. The game is a mystery and you have to solve it. Discover what happened at the facility. A bit spooky, very dark and mysterious, grab this game before they start to charge for it!

And since I can, I think I will throw in another app. A bonus to make up for the fact that you have to put up with me while Bonnie is away.

Omium from Nimblebit is innovative in a few ways. For one, two players share the same screen, one defending and one attacking. While one player is directing the attack ships, another player is trying to stay alive by shooting them or avoiding them. While the game itself looks simple, the ideas behind and the possibilities for the future are not. It's a very fun, well made two player game for the iPad.

WIRED Magazine For iPad Hits The App Store

Posted by Ben Harvell on May 26th, 2010
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Our rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar :: NOT QUITE WIRED FOR THE IPAD :: Read Review »

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.

Could The iPad Ship With A Built-In iSight Camera?

Posted by Arron Hirst on February 3rd, 2010

Even though an iSight camera (or its accompanying UI) wasn't shown off last Wednesday's iPad media event, speculation has now fallen to if the iPad will ship with one. These rumors started when Steve showed the device to the media. For a split second (around the 9:24 mark on the video podcast), you'll see the studio lights catch what appears to be a concealed hole in the top center of the iPad's new bezel. Sure, we've been here before. This could be a number of things, an ambient light or proximity sensor for one.

Granted, this "evidence" is pretty sketchy, and probably likely to be debunked, but it gets better. Mission Repair today started to receive replacement Apple iPad parts of which it posted some shots of on their blog. Among the parts was the iPad's outer frame .. and guess what? It has a molded slot which fits the iSight camera part, perfectly. The photo shows the iPad's outer frame (top), an Apple Macbook iSight unit (middle), and the Macbooks inner frame (bottom).

Wired reports the iPad simulator seeded as part of the iPhone OS 3.2 SDK still features a "Take a Photo" OS action, when adding a contact's photo to Contacts.app, for example. There's even speculation that the reason Apple didn't show the camera at the event was due to its then unfinished supporting UI. This image posted by Shaun supports the rumor, suggesting that Apple didn't just leave in the same UI from iPhone OS, but that it has been modified to look and feel dedicated to the iPad, although as you can tell, it's far from final.

Maybe we'll see another event at the end of March, just before they launch the Wi-Fi iPad model. "One More Thing?" .. Or could this be a design choice for a future iPad model? I'm sure we'll find out soon!