Newsweek for iPad Introduces Subscriptions

It’s about time! Newsweek has just updated its iPad app to introduce subscriptions, which means that we’re finally seeing some interesting pricing on iPad magazines. Newsweek was already offering cheaper prices than the competition at $3 per issue (the Time Inc. weeklies are all $5 an issue), but with the two new available subscription options things are getting VERY cheap. Right now you can get a 12-week subscription for $10, so 80 cents an issue, or a 24-week subscription for $15, at about 60 cents an issue.

The only thing for me is that I’d much rather read Time at this price, but I’ll probably buy at least one issue of Newsweek to sample it. I do hope that subscription options start popping up more though — over to you Condé Nast and Time Inc.

My Design Column for the Japan Times

I haven’t mentioned it in a while, but I do still contribute a monthly design column to The Japan Times newspaper. It’s called “On Design” and it is composed of five products I pick/recommend, and it is always published on the last Thursday of the month, which means that this month’s edition was in today’s paper (and it’s online here). This month I start out with a bit on Tokyo Design Week, and then I recommend Kyouei Design‘s Cube Letter Set, &design‘s Bird Alarm Clock, Shin Azumi‘s AP Stool, and the.‘s Speak-er.

The ComiPo! Manga Sequencer

This is something I posted over at SNOW Magazine a couple of weeks back, and forgot to mention here, even though I think it’s important to note in the context of all the digital publishing talk I cover here. It’s a new piece of software called ComiPo, a “manga sequencer,” and the idea is that it gives anyone — even if you have no drawing abilities — the means to create comics and manga. If you look at the video in the article, you’ll see exactly what I mean (and check Patrick’s original post for more details).

Adobe’s Digital Publishing Suite

So we’ve known for a while that Adobe would be releasing the tools they created for use in the Wired and New Yorker iPad apps, and now we finally have a few more details on what to expect. First thing, it’s going to be pricey. There are going to be two editions, Professional and Enterprise, and the latter is “expected” to be $700 per month, and add to that a per-issue fee.

Definitely not the kind of news I wanted to hear, hoping that they were going to be offering tools that would make sense for indie publishers. Let’s first wait and see what the pricing on the Professional edition will be though.

You can read the full press release here for more details on what the suite will have to offer. (via @magculture)

Wired Now Updates Like a Normal Magazine App

The November 2010 issue of Wired is out on iPad, and once you get past the giant breasts on the cover, the first think you notice — or that you may not have noticed unless you accessed the app — is that new issues are now just added in-app, and you can set notifications to tell you when a new issue comes out. It’s about time.

You’ll also notice that it’s another big issues in terms of MB size — I say this because last month was a bit slimmer, but now we’re back in the 400-500MB range.

And if you’re wondering why there are two cover images in this post, that’s just the portrait/landscape variations you get depending on how you hold your device. Which one’s your favorite?

New York Magazine

A funny thing about my love this year for New York Magazine. I’ve seen some terrific covers thanks to blogs like NAS CAPAS and Fuck Yeah, Magazines, I’ve read some great profiles that were hosted on its website (which I then read through Instapaper), and I’ve even seen the occasional interior spread. One thing I have not done is actually have a physical copy in my hands to read/browse through. Funny that.

The Times App

After my post the other day about the new NYT app, someone suggested I check out the one for The Times of London, since there’s a 30-day free trial — The Times app has been a very well known early proponent of not offering its content in app form (or web form) for free.

The first thing I encountered on the very first page was confusion caused by a non-linked item. It’s the page pictured above, and if you touch any of the news items you will go directly to the full article inside the issue, but for some reason that great big photo of Keith Richards, and even the headline below, doesn’t lead to anything. Yes, there is plenty of Richards-related content inside, but why not link to it? I spent some time trying to touch, double touch, and swipe away, as I couldn’t believe it was just a static item.

It’s nothing important, but I did like the way the large Times logo on the front page transitions into a smaller version as you swipe the page (I tried to capture the animation, and you can sort of see it in the image above, as it gets smaller). It’s just a nice little touch.

I did have a problem with the tight justified columns though — as you can see below, it makes for very ugly lines of text. I know we’re used to seeing this in a proper newspaper, but it doesn’t really work when you view it on a screen surface.

The biggest difference between The Times app and what the NYT app does is in terms of the way you work your way through the issue. While the NYT app simply adds new articles in each section, and they are then presented in summary form in a grid that usually includes between 5-9 pieces, here you not only download that day’s paper, you also have to swipe through every page, every section one after the other.

Sure, you can jump to different sections by accessing an index (pictured below), but since you are often just limited to a header and photo, it’s hard to tell if you really want to dig in. I do like scanning through a lot of news articles, and so the NYT format suits me best — there’s no way I’d want to have to flip through every article of the NYT. The fact that pretty much every single article in The Times leads with a large half-page (or more) photo does make it less painful, but still.

The other thing is that, with all the fuss that surrounded the launch of the app and the promise that it’s specifically formatted for iPad, I was expecting less of a template design and more creativity in layouts. But no, the vast majority of an issue follows the same look (you’ve seen pretty much all available layouts in the images included in this post). The only exception I found was for a feature at the end of the issue I downloaded that covered “Autumn Walks.” Pictured below, it does look rather nice, and I wish they would do more layouts like this.

Also part of the feature, they had great descriptions of routes to follow, and it’s only by flipping to landscape mode that you could see a beautiful photo from that walk (as seen below).

But in the end, if I don’t stick with The Times it’s not because of what I mentioned above or even the subscription price, but rather that it’s just too UK-centric for me in terms of its coverage.

NYT App Knows Its Photos and Videos

I may have had some complaints about the new NYT app for iPad, but one thing I do love is the new photo section, which apes the video section of the previous app. It’s similar to what you get on the excellent Guardian Eyewitness app, but here you get a ton of new great photos on a daily basis — the Guardian app only adds one photo daily. It’s a joy to flip through the photo selections — sometimes part of a “Pictures of the Day” collection, sometimes themed for an article — and you can go full screen with them if you view in landscape mode (I prefer keeping it in portrait because I like to read the captions).

Sometimes, a photo really does tell the whole story, like the example above. The caption reads: “Members of the European Parliament attended a debate on the working conditions of women in Strasbourg, France.”

And the video section from the old app is back, with no changes, and that’s fine by me. My favorite recurring segments are A.O. Scott’s weekly “Critics’ Picks,” in which he reviews a classic film, and the occasional “Screen Test” segment, in which an actor talks directly to the camera about various topics, in this case (above) the lovely Margareth Made who talks about taking on the role of Sophia Lauren in a recent biopic.

I will say that the app still crashes on me at least once every time I use it, and more often then not it’s when I’m in the photo section.