Many have hailed the iPad as the savior of news, but as I discussed in my last post, news readers are hesitant when asked to pay for news that they can get for free elsewhere. But what about magazines? This is where I think the printed industry could thrive if it adopts the iPad quickly and effectively. Within a year I’m sure that we’ll see a magazine store with the iBook store, with all the major publishers offering digital magazines with embedded videos, interactivity and even games, as well as the usual printed content.
First out of the blocks to get the iPad magazine absolutely right is Wired. The magazine looks great on the iPad’s 9.7 inch screen as you’d expect, but it’s the content and navigation that makes Wired so much better than other magazines I’ve read. I’m looking at you, iCreate and Mac User; offering no new content and a shoddy navigation system will not sell digital copies for you.
Anyway, Wired. All of the puffs and headlines of contained content on the front cover are links, so there’s no need to flick through page by page to find what you want. There’s an exclusive Toy Story 3 clip also linked on the cover; this video is downloaded with the app, so all content can be viewed offline. Very useless for anyone with the WiFi only iPad.
Swiping left and right moves you on to the next feature, while swiping up and down scrolls through each feature. This is a great way to flick through the content quickly, as a 4 or 5-page feature is displayed vertically, so it takes just one swipe to move on to the next.
One tap on the screen reveals the controls; a scrubber to scroll quickly through the magazine, a home icon to take you back to the front cover, a drop-down contents list and an icon that zooms out from the magazine, letting you see the entire layout. This is a great way to scan quickly through the issue, with descriptions of features at the top of the screen. The app remembers how far you have read each article and positions the zoomed out preview accordingly
Adverts take up whole pages, as you’d expect in a magazine, but some here offer video content that you can click to view – again, these are downloaded with the sizable 527mb magazine.
Some pages are interactive content, such as a neat animation of a pop-up book, which is opened and scanned through as you swipe your finger over it. There’s also an image of a heart on a health advert that can be spun around.
Images really do look stunning and although I don’t like reading books on the iPad, magazine content is perfect as it’s just a few hundred words at a time, with lots of colours and text boxes to keep your eyes busy and not get too tired of block text.
Sadly, the app only offers the American copy of Wired, with each issue priced at £2.99. You do get a hell of a lot of content for that price, and the layout and navigation is perfect. Some complaints on the AppStore are of too many adverts, but from what I can see these adverts are the same as what would appear in the printed edition. Ever picked up a glossy magazine and not had to skim through 5 or 6 full-page ads before finding the first feature? Didn’t think so.
Wired have set the benchmark high for iPad magazine and I really hope that other publishers will jump on the bandwagon soon. I have a subscription to TopGear magazine and I’d happily ditch it for an iPad version if the quality was as high as Wired. The large size of each issue could be a problem if you’re trying to download via 3G or public WiFi, but having all of the content available offline outweighs the size in my opinion.
Wired Magzine is available here for £2.99