Monday, October 4, 2010

7sky publishing releases two magazine apps for the iPad; but very slow download times kill the user experience

One question publishers are pondering as they develop their first tablet editions is 'should be include the issue with the app, or should we require a download after the app is installed'?
Several of the big media firms have opted to develop apps that include everything up front. As a result, these apps are weighing it at 250 MB or larger and getting a bit of criticism for it. But the advantage of this approach is that once the app is installed the reader can dig right in to the magazine. Additionally, all the video and animation content is right there, as well, allowing for offline reading.

The disadvantage of the "big app" approach is that the user must go through a two-step process where the reader must download individual issues. But if the publisher wants to use just one app for their magazine it is easy to build-in a library approach, similar to what Zinio does with its digital newsstand.

One publisher who has decided to go with smaller apps and have their readers download individual issues from within the app is 7sky publishing, a Swiss media firm. They currently have two apps in the iTunes App Store for the iPad. The newest is for Open Magazine.
I'd like to tell you about their tablet editions but frankly I simply never got passed the download stage. Opening the free app up after installed immediately brings you to an introductory video. At first the video looks like a Flash animation, especially if you are already in landscape mode. In landscape the video looks good and seems appropriate; in portrait mode, however, it is clear that this is simply a poor man's version of a Flash introduction page. Worse, every time you open the app up this same video comes at you.

After the video ends you are taken to a page where you can download the issues. Currently the app offers two separate issues, each available in either French or German -- four options in total. This is where the app completely falls apart. If you can't download the issues there is simply no point, right? Well, after trying for quite a while to download an issue I gave up.

Maybe you'll have more luck than I did. But for now this magazine will remain a mystery. 7sky publishing also has an app for its namesake title, 7sky Magazine. Both apps are free to download, and at least for now the issues are free to download -- assuming you have and luck with downloading an issue.