Monday, May 16, 2011

aside magazine, an HTML5 magazine for the iPad: promising concept results in an unreadable product

The Google meltdown last week prevented me from posting a look at aside magazine, touted as the "World's first magazine just made with HTML5". The screenshots were taken, a video shot, but Blogger was down and so it was on to the weekend for me.
The concept behind aside is great: one opens up the web home page using your iPad's Safari browser. Your site sniffs out the source and delivers a page that requests that you create a bookmark icon – something that can be done for any web page, by the way. Then the iPad owner clicks the icon, which launches their browser which loads the aside home page.

For many iPad owners, they will not even know that this isn't really an app – until they actually attempt to read the magazine, however.
Unfortunately, the experience is not good: swiping between pages is not smooth, scrolling is jumpy, loading is uneven.

Is this the fault of the programming, or the iPad? The concept, or the delivery?

Because I saw no reason to upgrade my iPad, I'm still using the first generation iPad. It is possible that the iPad2's faster CPU could improve the reader's experience, but I think that is unlikely.

The promise of HTML5 is that it would allow publishers to create tablet editions that can be read in both portrait and landscape that would completely bypass Apple's App Store. It also would allow publishers to create magazine-like products for any browser based device so that one could create a completely different type of website experience (later today I'll talk about another company moving in this direction, PressJack.)

This was supposed to be what Flash could bring to the web, but the software ended up being used mostly for advertising and web elements rather than complete web experiences – in fact, most web users vocally oppose Flash sites, in general. HTML5 supposedly will be a better solution, and my guess is that it will be, eventually.

You can test aside yourself, it is free, after all, all you need do is surf on over to the website and test it on your iPad. As you can see from the video below – screenshots don't capture scrolling and swiping very well – my own experience was not the best:


Tablazines said...

I've been playing with this over the weekend. I contacted them about utilizing their technology.

I seems very similar to the Magaka framework ( - though I found scrolling through the sample Magaka magazine much smoother.

chuckl said...

Its clunky to use, but its still beta. i'll be curious to see if it gets better and if established publishers pick it up.

Eric Moreira said...

As you have said, I think the problem is related to iPad 1. I had a experience with my iPad2 ad it was amazing! which makes me think: Jobs defends the HTML 5, but it can be the appstore killer. don't you think?!