Thursday, October 28, 2010

Tablet app updates; Australian Women's Weekly releases first iPad app; iPad OS upgrade right around the corner

A batch of media app updates hit iTunes this morning, including updates for the Financial Times, NPR, the Telegraph and ABC News.
Most of the updates simply fixed bugs found in earlier versions. The ABC News app, known for its unique globe design, added an interactive feature tied to the mid-term elections in the U.S. upcoming next Tuesday. The "What If" feature is a "game where users interact with a map of the US, tapping on States or Congressional Districts to turn them red or blue, and watching how their guesses impact the balance of power," according to the App Store description -- you can see it at right.

The Australian Women's Weekly, an ACP Magazines publication, has released its first tablet edition. The free app employs a shell approach where the app itself is relatively small but the user then downloads individual issues. The app description wisely warns users that each edition will weigh in at between 200MB and 300MB in size.
The application was developed using Mogeneration's Oomph publishing platform. Mogeneration is an Australia based company that produces flipbooks and other digital publishing products -- in other words, this app produces a replica edition.

"We are excited to bring the iconic Australian Woman's Weekly to what is surely a future icon, the Apple iPad," Keith Ahern, CEO of Mogeneration said in their release. "iPad Magazines make sense. Everything that's great about a print magazine, the layout, the content, the contextual advertisements and the size translate wonderfully to the iPad - then you add the Internet, multimedia, personalisation and online advertising. iPad Ads regularly show higher click through rates than the web. This is the future of magazines, in your hands, right now."

Each issue will cost readers $5.99, a slight discount off the $6.90 cover price. And by the way, for those not familiar with this magazine, Australian Women's Weekly is a magazine founded in 1933 and was for a long time an actual weekly, but it converted to a monthly in late 1982 but retained its name.

Since we are talking about an app from Australia this is a good time to look inside iTunes at the App Store there. For the iPad the leading paid news app is from The Australian -- no surprise. But just like most other app stores, the top ten also includes the Pulse News Reader and Instapaper apps.

The top free iPad news app is from ABC -- which in this case means the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. But the second and third most popular apps come from outside Australia: the New York Times and BBC News.

The long awaited operating system upgrade for the iPad is right around the corner, probably a few weeks away. The upgrade to iOS 4.2 will bring folders and multitasking to the iPad, features that have been enjoyed by iPhone users for a while now.

Because of this, it is an interesting time to be releasing first apps -- do you wait until after the upgrade or go ahead and release your apps?

For newspaper and magazine companies it is probably wise to just go ahead and release the app. Multitasking doesn't effect a "print" product on the tablet that much. But for radio apps multitasking allows the user to keep the content flowing even if the user switches to another app.