Thursday, April 22, 2010

Modern Luxury releases iPad apps through Blue Toad

Blue Toad, the digital publishing company, launched eight iPad apps in iTunes today for their client Modern Luxury. All eight apps are for the Modern Luxury city magazines.
Neither BlueToad nor Modern Luxury seem to be making a big deal of the apps as neither are promoting them on their web sites -- BlueToad does not even mention that they offer publishers the service.

The eight apps are for CS Magazine (Chicago), DC Magazine, Rivera Magazine (Orange County), Rivera San Diego Magazine, The Atlantan Magazine, Hawai'i Magazine, Modern Luxury Dallas and Houston Magazine. All iPad and iPhone apps for BlueToad can be found here (iTunes link).

Can you tell this is a "luxury" magazine, not targeted at us media folk?

The BlueToad apps are load their issues in a timely fashion. In the case of CS Magazine the app immediately asks for permission to push notifications -- this is a setting inside the iPad that allows third parties to send information, alerts etc. There are already some complaints from iPad users about developers abusing notifications, though I doubt either a publisher or their developer would use notifications in this way. In any case, turning off the notifications permission is easily done inside the iPad's settings.

The first editorial spread: pgs 80-81.

Page loading is fairly quickly, though it can seem a little slow if you are trying to quickly scan the issue. The assumption is, at least among New Media people, is that iPad reading with resemble print in that it is a leisure time activity -- not at all liek the web. My experience after three weeks that this assumption has proved 100 percent correct. My iPad is used far more after working hours and during the weekend when I have to battle my kids for control of the device. They play games and watch videos; I read newspapers, magazines and books, and watch as my Bay Area teams lose again (it's going to be another long season for the Giants and A's, I'm afraid).

The menu includes an ad index with direct links to the issue page and the
advertiser's website, as well as a page with thumbnail views of the pages.

The BlueToad apps are a good additions to the flip books the company offers publishers for their web sites. But I remain torn about the whole concept of flip books. I've never bought into the idea that readers enjoyed reading magazines in this way on their computers as web usage shows that users search and scan on the web rather than linger over these electronic versions of the print editions. Flip book vendors, of course, vigorously disagree.

So, is a flip book better on the a tablet? No doubt. A casual reading experience, like that with the iPad, lends itself to this solution. Publishers who work with Blue Toad will be happy to be able to say to advertisers that their product is available on the iPad, and advertisers will be happy with the way their ads look.

The only issue is are publishers serious about tablet publishing, or only taking the easy way out by letting a third party handle their tablet products? The issue of CS Magazine I downloaded did not contain any embedded video or audio and contained no direct links to additional content. This may work for now, but already iPad users are complaining of the lazy approach publishers are taking with tablet products. The iPad offers publishers a larger creative pallet, but few are taking advantage. This is one reason it is disappointing that Wired's app is not yet available in iTunes, possibly caught up in the war between Adobe and Apple.

Update: Blue Toad has gotten another iPad app for Modern Luxury up on iTunes today (April 23), this one for Angeleno.