Archives For iPad

When you’re flying do you pack a Kindle? An iPad, paperbacks, magazines? All of the above? Australian Business Traveller editor David Flynn is asking flyers how they read in-flight.

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The big issue for media consumption is fragmentation, both in terms of devices used and information sources. Consumers can access information on an ever growing list of platforms, from phones to tablets to TVs. This means information is more accessible, more places, than ever.

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Waste Land AppFaber & Faber is dragging poetry into the 21st century with an iPad version of T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land. This is nothing to do with digital magazines, but it was too pretentious a headline to pass up (Yeah, I know it’s Yeats not Eliot).

I actually think the centre will hold for Faber on this; it’s a brilliant idea, taking full advantage of iPad functionality to give published poetry back it’s voice. The app features a new filmed performance of the poem by Fiona Shaw, readings by Eliot and Ted Hughes and video perspectives from, among others Seamus Heaney. Not bad for £7.99

I can’t wait for someone to get a hold of Under Milkwood by Dylan Thomas. Meanwhile, here’s T.S. Eliot reading The Burial of the Dead from The Waste Land.

Casually casting “the media”, specialist or mainstream, as apathetic luddites is flat-earth thinking. The media has moved on. We are well aware that we need to move online with our communities – we are doing it.

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Russell ClarkiGizmo from Dennis publishing was one of the first digital magazines that I saw and thought, “OK there’s more we can do here.” The digital-only monthly has been serving up a strong mix of words and multimedia to a gadget-happy audience since 2008. Late in September 2010, the magazine jumped onto the iPad and in stark contrast to the New Yorker app that went live the same day, was heavily layered and packed with menu driven content, videos and 360-degree animations. It looked like  the iGizmo team had been getting ready for the iPad for a very long time.

Not long after the launch, I took the chance to speak with iGizmo Art Director and founder of MagDesigner.net, Russell Clark, to find out what he thought of his new baby.

How did it feel to see iGizmo on the iPad for the first time?

It was a relief! Apple has the last say with any App so I was just glad it passed the process and went into the App store. To download it from iTunes was just like walking into a newsagent and seeing your shiny mag sitting there on the shelf, a feeling of accomplishment. The best part however, was seeing it rocket up the charts to number one, and in very little time. There have been so many positive reviews and emails from readers. It’s good to know there are a lot of people out there, who wanted to see what we wanted to make.

I’ve heard people say that iGizmo was designed for the iPad even before the iPad existed.

All of us at iGIZMO are gadget lovers, and as such we’ve wanted to see cool tech like the iPad for years. iGIZMO was originally designed for web based desktops, but we always knew it would suit a touch device perfectly. It was only a matter of time really and adapting it was reassuringly easy. I’m sure iGIZMO will evolve along with the technology we use to view it.

What’s the biggest difference between working for print, working for the computer screen and now working for the iPad?

It’s an entirely different ball game really. Everything is different; font sizes, units of measurements, dpi, colour pallets, the amount of content. The biggie is thinking in terms of multi-layered interactivity. How to link that in with a familiar magazine feel. How to implement video, animation and games to entertain your reader whilst giving them useful information. It’s a careful balance.

The jump from web eMag to iPad isn’t so bad, but the big one to get your head around is designing for two orientations. Since the iPad can be held both vertically and horizontally each page needs to be designed twice. It’s a bit like learning how to put a square peg in a round hole, but doing so in a stylish and cool way. It’s a challenge, and to do it fast, doubly so. It’s good fun.

Is iGizmo on the desktop and iGizmo on the iPad basically the same magazine or are there major differences?

The same content exists in each format, there may be some layout differences but generally they are the same magazine. The reading experience is obviously different though because of the touch interface, that’s an important part of the experience for me. The only real difference lies in the way they are constructed, iGIZMO for the Ceros platform is Flash based, therefore a team of Flash developers work on the title. With the iPad versions it’s all made using Adobe InDesign CS5, no developer resources or code writers are needed. It brings flexibility back to the creative editorial process and makes for a very easy and efficient production workflow.

What is the biggest consideration designing for the iPad?

I’d say the amount of content to put into the magazine is something that needs careful consideration. The iPad’s biggest asset is also its biggest downfall; it can do so much cool stuff; attention spans aren’t always great and people have expectations of rich content. We need to keep interactive magazines consumable.

By that I don’t mean cutting down on content, just by finding new and exciting ways to deliver it; videos, audio, interactive elements, graphics and good design. iPad issues don’t have to be 100 pages long, they don’t need 1,000 words on every page. They need to be graphically appealing, interactive and enjoyable.

We cant reproduce print PDFs any more -  there’s no long term business there, we need to cater for these devices properly in order to give the reader a quality product they will buy, read and enjoy again and again.

The first issue of IGizmo came out March 2008 – what’s changed in digital magazines since then?

Popularity would be the main thing. iGIZMO has been publishing for two and a half years now as a free title. Pretty impressive and it says a lot about its loyal readers and also advertisers who have embraced the platform enough to sustain it. People have finally taken notice of eMags and the introduction of the iPad has emphasised the importance of digital magazines more than ever.

Whilst numerous print titles have closed, we have seen a rise in the amount of eMags being launched. It’s fair to say one or two eMags have also closed but there has been an undeniable growth, especially in the b2b and contract publishing markets. Technology wise; the online side of things hasn’t changed a great deal in that time. But the tools available just beg you to push the boundaries and creativity to a new high, people are doing some brilliant things with eMags at the moment.

Digital magazines are also starting to win awards, with Redwood’s Virgin Electric magazine last year winng a BSME award. The year prior to that iGIZMO was nominated for Launch of the Year, and also won a PPA award. 2010 also saw the first Digital Magazine Awards, which will hopefully bring a lot of recognition to the industry and get people talking.

What’s next for digital magazines?

We’re all hoping an Apple Magazine Store will be launched soon, maybe along with the iPad Two early next year. This could bring a great deal of stability to the eMag industry. Online magazine stores are a must; readers need a place they can go to browse and buy magazines, its the one thing missing from the eMag experience. Love or loathe ‘em, Apple have a tendency to set trends. The iPad has sold amazingly well and with new devices on the way, the market is only going to grow.

One day I believe we’ll see electronic paper widely used. Along with super-speed, nationwide wifi coverage. Augmented reality integrated within magazines and cloud based data storage with greater personalised, interactive content.

I also harbour hopes to one day work on the worlds first, interactive ‘Flying Car Monthly’.

With announcements from Samsung and Toshiba at the IFA consumer electronics show in Berlin last week, it looks like the big boys are gearing up to go after a share of the tablet market initiated by Apple’s iPad, but why should magazine people care what’s going on in the consumer tech market?

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ZmagsThe debate over the relative advantages of mobile apps versus browser-based content is picking up momentum and Zmags recently launched its Mobile BETA service on the browser side of the argument.

Joakim Ditlev, Copenhagen-based Director of Marketing Operations for Zmags, says they focused on the primary goal of optimizing the user experience specifically on mobile devices. Key mobile functions include searching in the browser, finding and clicking on links, and the ability of following links directly from emails or websites. “The definition of good user experience is different depending on the device. On a small mobile phone, readers want speed and simplicity and on a desktop, readers expect a rich, interactive experience. Zmags Mobile is accessible, fast, and simple,” says Ditlev.

He believes it is important to deliver maximum reach to digital magazine publishers and that browser-based content delivers this. “On mobile it is all about making digital publications immediately available. Readers on the move usually have scarce time and having them download an app before accessing content will often be a show-stopper.”

Ditlev lists another advantage of the browser-based approach: “The content owner is in control of the distribution, unlike distributing through App stores, where especially Apple has unpredictable and dimly lit policies on what content is allowed and what is not.”

Zmags Mobile BETA supports zooming (tap and pinch), touch navigation (slide) and automatic conversion from single page to split pages (spreads) when the smart phone or tablet is rotated. “Our goal was to use standard navigation and view features that mobile browsers support,” said Ditlev. The trade off is in sacrificing enriched content and advanced features familiar to desktop users. “These are not supported in the mobile version,” he explains.

Ditlev is adamant that Zmags will continue to support Flash for all desktop, notebook, and netbook devices. “Flash is available on more than 98% of all computers, which makes it the most widely used content platform for interactive rich content on non-mobile devices. If Flash becomes more widely available on mobile devices Zmags will look to support Flash on these devices.”

The current reality is, however, that Flash is not supported on many mobile devices including Apple’s iPhone or iPad. “Other technologies must be used to support rich media like video on these devices. HTML5 supports video playback and has the advantage that no 3rd party plug-in is required, so Zmags selectively uses HTML5 and CSS3 tags in the mobile viewer,” Ditlev says.

You can find out more about Zmags Mobile BETA here or listen to Zmags founder Jens Kartoff talk more about the thinking behind the Mobile Beta launch in the video below.

Remember that little A5 magazine that was stacked in the corner of your Granny’s living room next to the People’s Friends? Well it’s moved on a bit. Reader’s Digest, favourite of little old ladies the world over has just launched an iPad app in the UK.  The much beleaguered global light-reading empire sold off it’s UK arm last year and the British team has been working with YUDU to launch the first ever iPad version of the title, once the world’s most popular paid circulation magazine. The edition is a replica of the newstand version with some multimedia. Ongoing prices are unclear, but you can download the app free here or watch the obligatory demo video here.

According to the YUDU blog, the Reader’s Digest app is charting at number 6 in the lifestyle section of the iTunes store. Either it really has moved on your Granny got herself an iPad.

So the iPad has been released into the wild here in the UK, signaling the end of the magazine publishing world as we know it, hopefully. An end to emaciated revenues, closures and lay offs.

At PIRA’s Great Print Debate at IPEX on Monday, I sat on a panel of “experts” waxing lyrical about the future of print in the iPad age. There was a universal consensus that the world’s hottest tech toy is cool but it will not kill print. We agreed, however, that the three main printed media – newspapers, books and magazines – will be affected by the arrival of digital reading devices.

Almost everyone, panel and audience alike, thought that newspapers in print are doomed, but then we sort of knew that even before the iPad was a twinkle in Steve Jobs’ eye. Most believed that books, especially fiction, will survive because people love to read them on planes and trains and show off by leaving them lying where impressionable friends and colleagues can see them.

Magazines seemed harder to call. I think this is because they fall somewhere between “information commodities” like newspapers and “information artifacts” like books. This is certainly true of glossy consumer titles, which people buy as much to signal their lifestyle choices as they do to read.

In the business-to-business sphere, however, there is a strong argument that readers care more about searchable content; they just want to get quickly to information that helps them do their jobs better: Websites are the best place for that and the business-to-business magazine is history.

Except… almost every office I have ever been in keeps a stack of back issues of their favourite trade magazine, even although they are probably all available and searchable online. What’s that about? Why do people persist in hoarding back copies of business magazines? Why give up valuable shelf space to material that is available digitally?

I think it’s because they like the fact that they can see their professional library. They know exactly where it is. They can reach out and grab an issue, read an article they remember, copy it for staff or colleagues, avoid the distraction of web searches and the tedious results sifting required to avoid the Internet’s billions of blind alleys.

You can pick up a magazine, put it down, pick it up again and nothing has changed. It has a clean edges, a recognizable shape and this might just be where the iPad and its clones will help shape a future for digital magazines.

The economics of B2B print publishing make the long-term prospects for a hard-copy curated format uncertain at best. The iPad could provide publishers with a cost-effective platform for old-school issue-based curation alongside the digital benefits of multimedia, interactivity, connectivity and search.

None of this means the future for digital magazines is certain or secure. No one has produced a great iPad magazine app yet, faked-up demos notwithstanding. We’ve all still got a lot of work to do. But at least now it’s possible to imagine a full year’s issues sitting on a digital magazine rack on your iPad desktop. Compare that to a half empty shelf holding the skinny remnants of a shuttered print title, and I really hope that the iPad’s launch is the beginning of the end of the world as we know it.

The threat to print magazines posed by e-readers, Apple’s iPad in particular is a huge issue for the publishing industry and as editorial director for a group of B2B titles in print aswell as digital, I care deeply about where my brands and my career are headed.

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