Monday, March 7, 2011

Tribune Interactive releases its first iPad app for LA Times Magazine; LANG releases four replica edition iPad apps

The first tablet edition has been released by Tribune Interactive and I must admit that it has me totally confused. The free app if for LA Times Magazine and the app description appears to describe something I just don't see:
"Enjoy reading LA on your iPad either horizontally, flipping through its pages, or switch to the vertical view to settle in with the articles of your choice."

The problem is that holding my iPad horizontally does absolutely nothing as the app stays stubbornly in portrait mode. And since the entire magazine only weighs in at around 40MB, I don't think there would be enough data there to have both portrait and landscape views.
At first blush you might think this is a replica edition, but it is not. Well, not entirely. Thom Meredity, Hansen Smith, Rip Georges are credited as being the designers with Helene Goldsen the content editor. Moving through the app one notices that there are certain pages with small arrows which give the reader a clue that their is more content below. The reader can then scroll down to reveal some additional content or a caption for an illustration. It is the use of scrolling for additional content, along with the occasional use of animation that makes this not quite a replica edition.

In fact, the animation is just about all the multimedia content that I could find here, and that's OK, not every media app needs to be loaded up with audio and video. Sometimes one just wants to read, right?
But here again the app description talks about "bonus material including additional images, audio and video created just for the LA app". Additional images? I assume they are there. But added audio and video? Where?

I'm wondering if the app description is more a promise of multimedia content down the line, rather than a true description of the tablet edition as it exists today. What one gets now depends heavily on its photography -- which is good since the iPad really does make photos pop.

As for the lack of a landscape mode, think this is OK, as well. Although I prefer my iPad in the horizontal position -- and the new Motorola XOOM practically demands landscape -- one can easily hold the iPad like a Kindle and read a tablet edition. This, let's call it, enhanced and modified replica edition, works fine and provides the editors of the magazine with a working app to build on.

Having said that, I wouldn't be completely surprised to discover an app update in the App Store for LA Times Magazine.

The Tribune Company's LA Times Magazine app wasn't the only media app released for a Los Angeles area media property. In fact, the Los Angeles Newspaper Group, part of MediaNews Group, released four new iPad apps in support of its Southern California newspaper properties. The free apps are for the Torrance Daily Breeze, the Long Beach Press Telegram, the Los Angeles Daily News and the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin.
(Just to show you the effects of media consolidation, the Torrance Daily Breeze used to be part of the now defunct Copley Los Angeles Newspaper Group. the Long Beach Press Telegram used to be owned by Knight-Ridder, the Los Angeles Daily News changed hands many times but once was owned by the Tribune Company, and the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin was founded by Donrey Media. How has consolidation worked out? Well, MediaNews Group filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last January.)

Along with the four new iPad app, an updated app was released for the San Bernardino Sun, as well.

If you are a regular reader of TNM these apps should look familiar, they are identical to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel app I wrote about, and blasted, when it was released at the end of December. They look the same because they are the same. "Powered by Tecnavia", these apps are somebodies vision of tablet publishing -- just not mine. (Is the sales rep selling these tablet solutions really that good? Or are the newspaper executives really this bad? Download one of these new apps and weep for our industry.)

I don't know if this is the first app update to feature the new AirPlay features found in iOS 4.3, but if isn't the first it is close to it. Air Video, sold by InMethod, lets you stream your movies from your computer to your iOS devices. Now with third party access to AirPlay, the Air Video will be able to support that function, as well.

One thing, though, iOS owners won't get access to iOS 4.3 until Friday, so this is jumping the gun a bit. Current owners of the app will get their upgrades for free, of course. Otherwise, the video streaming app costs $2.99.

1 Comment:

Tablazines said...

I'm kind of the opposite. While I view the web in Landscape mode, when it comes to reading magazine's I prefer portrait mode.

Even when I'm designing our publications, I pay more attention to portrait mode than I do landscape.