Monday, August 1, 2011

The Atlantic releases new iOS app built by RareWire that offers both tablet editions as well as website content

The Atlantic has released a new universal app over the weekend for its website and monthly magazine. Built by RareWire, the app is an interesting hybrid that the developer says is all built using XML, not HTML5.
The new app, The Atlantic Magazine: Digital Edition, is free to download. Once installed, the app immediately gives you several choices: if you are a print subscriber you can sign into your account and get access to the magazine directly through the app; if not a print subscriber, you can sign up for $21.99 – 10 issues per year; the third option is to simply access the web content free through the app. Later, within the app, you can choose to buy individual issues at the non-discounted price of $4.99 per issue.

The app's rendition of the website content should look familiar to TNM readers now: a Flipboard-like look that very much reminds one of OnSwipe's look, as well. The look, at first, appears attractive, but the impression does not last. The reason is that this style of layout – individual boxes housing the stories, all the same size, in random order – really goes against good publishing practice. Editors put stories in certain positions, giving them more space than others, for a reason. A box is a box is a box.

The reason for this look, of course, is that the design is driven by feeds, and feeds can not discriminate. At best, a designer can make sure that a certain feed goes into a certain box, but that box is still the same size as all the others.

Clearly I'm not a fan of the Flipboard style of magazine website design.

But the app does work, is otherwise well designed, and does give readers access to the website from with the app. When combined with the magazine access, this is a winning formula.

The advantages of the tablet editions are extra multimedia content, offline reading and article sharing. I'll have to look deeper at issues to notice other differences with the print editions, if there are any,

RareWire says in its announcement for this app that they will make their App Creation Studio available for publishers in the fall. The platform will work for both iOS and Android.

Top Left: the sign-in page where the reader can sign into their print account of buy an annual subscription in-app; Top Right: a pop-up ad from Mercedes-Benz; Bottom Left: a web article layout; Bottom Right: the issue archives.