The iPad was supposed to be the demise of the print industry. Magazines and newspapers aren’t going down without a fight. Like technology, the good ones learned to adapt. The better ones learned to anticipate it before it was even created. While most of the major publications have developed an iPad version to keep afloat, there are a few who’ve stuck out from the rest that deserves a mention of their own.
Hinted at since spring and officially unveiled earlier this month, Esquire’s iPad app is nothing short of incredible. Instead of just plopping in text and images and adding some scroll bars, Esquire has re-engineered every piece of content to be digitally optimized. (In fact, there aren’t even any scroll bars.) Photos can be swiveled 360 degrees, and interactive footnotes are peppered throughout the text — text that can be easily highlighted, copied, and pasted. Esquire’s demo below says it all (and better), but personally, I was sold when Javier Bardem walked into focus and greeted me to the mag’s October issue.
Wall Street Journal, Free limited version; $3.99/week for all the content
It’s an intuitive, attractive, and downright adaptable app for a famously traditional newspaper, and it’s not hard to see why it has attracted so much attention. The start screen lets you quickly access past editions, as well as revisit anything you’ve saved while scrolling. The best part, though, is its separation of the “Today” news and the “Now” news, making it easier for users to get up-to-the-second breaking news because let’s face it, this post will probably be old news by 6 p.m. I am having a hard time swallowing the $3.99 a week price tag attached to it to get access to all the content, but avid Wall Street Journal readers may not mind the price bump as you’re getting information delivered to you in an innovative way.
Wired was one of the first to make an appearance on the iPad market, and as its name suggests, the digital version is certainly, well, wired. The cover is loaded with entry points and interactive elements not only drawing you into the magazine but opening your eyes to what you never thought possible. Even the ads were interactive — and easy to skip. Unfortunately, the massive boom it saw in its first month (more than 110,000 downloads), didn’t carry over and sales plummeted in July and August. EIC Chris Anderson saw that as a sign for improvement and hinted that more social aspects, possibly drawing from the social mag app Flipboard, will be coming to Wired at year’s end. Check out Wired’s iPad video demo on their website.
New York Times, Free (for a limited amount of time)
Earlier in the year, NYT released an “Editor’s Choice” iPad app, which allowed users to access the best snippets of news for free. The functionality wasn’t groundbreaking, but the paper was commended for giving users exactly what they want: good, free content delivered in a snazzy, new way. But, naturally, users demanded more, and NYT responded and has done away with the limited content version for an expanded version of the paper with more content, more multimedia, and a better user interface. You still have to have an NYT account to register, but you can get the full version for free, that is until a fee kicks in early next year.
Up and Coming: Time Magazine, Price $4.99
When Time first released their iPad app back in April, it wasn’t anything to tout about. (The fact that they put it out in 40 days is another story.) It lacked sharing features and had clunky usability, user interface, and too much replicated content to stomach the hefty price tag. Time has since gone back to the drawing board to revamp their angle, and with features like embedded video, chatting and a hot-spot enabled table of contents, they seem to be heading in the right direction. Peter Kafka from All Things Digital puts a side-by-side comparison of what was released and what’s soon to come.
All of the newspaper and magazine prices are based on a per-issue fee, so I’m curious as to when they’ll start offering iPad app subscriptions and if these will be discounted like their print counterparts.