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iPad Magazines: The Pros & Cons
By RICHARD MACMANUS of ReadWriteWeb,August 30, 2010

iPad Magazines - The Pros and Cons - NYTimes.com

When the iPad was launched earlier this year, one of the big talking points was that the iPad might be the savior of magazines. By now many magazines are available on the iPad, either in their own standalone app or in a virtual magazine store. In this post we look at how magazines are using the iPad, what the user experience is like, and what iPad magazines still need to do to improve.

We'll analyze a standalone iPad magazine app (Wired) and a service that offers access to many different magazines (Zinio).

Note that we're focusing purely on the user experience of iPad magazines, rather than business matters like profitability or number of downloads.


Wired magazine has been the most high profile magazine to utilize the iPad's interactivity. Each new edition costs US$4.99 and is a fairly bulky download - the most recent 'Web is dead' edition was 482MB. But it is packed with interactive goodies.

Each iPad edition of Wired features videos, touch-screen infographics, slideshows, music and more. For example, a story about a small American town called Picher that has been "devastated" by lead and zinc mining. In the iPad edition, the story is accompanied by a video featuring Picher locals talking about the impact of mining on their town. It definitely augments the story and brings the reader closer to the issue.

There are some oddities to the Wired app, however. For example, you can't do the usual pinching motion to enlarge text that is present in most other iPad apps. So if the font type is too small for you to read, you're out of luck. The blog iA has a thorough critique of this and other issues. Also see our own Sarah Perez's thoughts on the sometimes confusing features of various iPad magazines.

But overall, Wired's app is the best example currently of a mainstream magazine utilizing the iPad's touchscreen and interactive capabilities.

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