Thoughts On Digital Magazines

Written by Alex Watson

September 28, 2010 | 18:57

Tags: #ipad #iphone-apps #our-thoughts #zinio

Companies: #bit-tech #custom-pc

I warn you now: this post isn't going to be entirely about the iPad, but it will be featured, so look away now if you're squeamish. Or skip straight to the comments to bash Steve Jobs!

That said, I don't come specifically to praise the iPad either, or even to focus on it. What I want to talk about is the stuff that's on the iPad: particularly the bundle of words, pictures, videos and ideas we call a magazine. There's a lot of great magazine stuff happening on the iPad, from straightforward digital facsimiles (essentially PDFs) of paper mags such as our own Custom PC Zinio edition, through to Apps with video and software features such as 360 degree rotatable images (the ones that, if you're particularly viciously disposed towards the English language, you might call 'magapps').

They're solely iPad Apps at the moment because it's taking the rest of the industry a long time to catch up, but as soon as Android tablets, WebOS tablets and the BlackBerry tablet appear and start selling in numbers you'll see similar offerings on them as well.
The size of a tablet's screen, the way you hold it, the emphasis on it not being a work computer all make them ideal devices for displaying a magazine's worth of content - and so far, tablet owners seem very keen on using them to read, too.

The mag App everyone knows is Wired; some people really like it, some people really don't.

For a first step, I think the Wired App is great. Images and video look excellent and the iPad's screen is fine for reading. The fact the iPad is silent, produces little to no heat when running and can be held in any orientation means it just gets out of the way and you can just get on with reading. Interacting with touch means that unlike viewing on a PC or a laptop with a WIMP interface, content has a feel again, as it does when it's printed. It's near enough to feel real and physical.

What's even more exciting is that this is still clearly first generation stuff - which makes it all the more better that Dennis Publishing, owner of bit-tech and Custom PC is throwing its hat in the ring. On Friday, our first iPad App, iGizmo, hit the App Store.

It's a glossy, monthly gadget magazine taking a look at cool tech and toys - the first issue on the iPad features an electric scooter and a £60 Nerf machine gun.

Produced using the same Adobe Tools as Wired (and the New Yorker, for that matter), iGizmo differs from those two titles in that it's not derived from a print title. It's entirely, natively digital. It's existed for a while as an online digital mag, but it really comes alive on the iPad, with HD video, 360 degree product shots and great photography. It's free, too, so give it a download. It's iPad only at the moment, but Adobe are working on a future version of the tools which will enable output to Android tablets and more.

If you don't have an iPad, or you're waiting for it to download (all the video is bundled with it, so it's 260mb), here's a video of the App in action:

By now you might be thinking that is just a long blog post that exists solely to plug a Dennis product. For shame! I would never stoop to that... Nope, the second point is that as you might be able to tell, these Apps are something I'm quite interested in - so for the next few months I'll be working on Apps here at Dennis while keeping a watching brief over CPC and bit-tech.

If you're particularly eagle-eyed, you might have spotted that we recently updated the bit-tech staff info page not just to add Paul in, but to change James' title to Acting Editor, as he'll be in charge of the day-to-day. Don't worry though - there won't be much different about the site, as the team and its goals remains the same, and while I'm away we'll have some new and existing writers contributing a bit more to the site.

I'm also interested to hear your thoughts about not just iGizmo, but iPads and tablets and magazine type content on them in general; what makes this place so interesting is that its audience comprises die-hard web users as well as people who read both the site and Custom PC magazine.
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