Wednesday, October 5, 2011

donna hay magazine releases first tablet edition in time for 10th birthday; The Economist issues new, improved iPad

Australian food editor Donna Hay is celebrating the 10th birthday of her magazine with the release of its first tablet edition. donna hay magazine is a free iPad app and the third tablet edition put out by Australian publisher News Magazines Pty. (a division of Murdoch's News Corp.)
Donna Hay, in case the name means nothing to you, is a 41-year old Australian food stylist, the former editor of Marie Claire and was for a very short time, the food editor at The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald newspapers. She is a regular on Australian television and has quite a number of cookbooks published and available through

This first iPad app for her 90K circulation magazine creates a newsstand for the bi-monthly and offers the first issue free – therefore, this is a good opportunity to check out what the publisher is doing on tablets.

The download is rather slow, but not excessively so. The app has a bit of animation (cover) and has some video, but the guts of the iPad magazine involves its tablet layouts and the way it handles recipes and what it calls "cook mode".

"Recipes" is precisely what you'd expect, a full page with recipe and a few paragraphs on how to prepare the dish – a traditional magazine approach to the topic. "Cook mode", however, gives you step-by-step instructions – one step per page. All that would make this perfect would be if Apple could add in voice controls that would allow cooks to instruct their iPads to turn the page without having to use one's dirty hands to do this (this will come, believe me).

If there is any fault I can see in the app it would be that there is no landscape. This saves lots of storage space and keeps the download times down. But my iPad cover, and the smart covers sold for the iPad 2, allow your tablet to stand up in landscape, not portrait.

The Economist released a second iPad app this week and while it is not radically different than the first app I think there are two good points to be made about it.

First, the new app is called The Economist for iPad. The old app was called The Economist on iPad. This shows the issue developers need to keep in mind when creating apps and submitting them to Apple. Each app needs a separate name, and once you have used one name that name is dead forever – or at least Apple addresses this issue.

As a result, The Economist now has two iPad apps and two iPhone apps – very confusing. To help readers they have added a "new" to the icon of the new apps. Because you can swap out icons at any time they can continue to use this technique to identify the newest apps.

Second point: I love the way this app handles font sizes. Rather than having a font button that increases or decreases the size, this app uses pinch-to-zoom. The problem with pinch-to zoom on replicas is that it zooms in and make you navigate around the page. This app simply increases the font size and repaginates the page – a two page article suddenly is three pages when the font is increased.

Publishers can check this out by downloading the app and downloading the editor's preview, thus avoiding having to pay for the full issue. (Single issues are $5.99, a quarterly subscription is $39.99, and an annual subscription is $119.99.)

1 Comment:

Tony Redhead said...

You mentioned in the Donna Hay post that it would be perfect if Apple could add in voice controls. Well it's already here and it didn't have to come from Apple. There's an Australian company called MoGeneration that has a Digital Publishing platform, called Oomph, that has Voice Controls as one of it's features.

In fact all the recipes in the latest Fitness First digital magazine have a voice control option, it's pretty cool.

No more sticky finger marks all over your iPad.