This post has been edited. The original mentions some issues with AirPlay that I encountered. I wondered whether this was the fault of the app, or whether my iPad and Apple TV were the source. Opening the app another time reveals that the app is performing perfectly.
Few apps get nearly unanimous raves inside the App Store. It is part of doing business, I suppose, that some people are disappointed in an app, or don't like the price. The new app from SPIN magazine bucks that trend by taking the right approach towards tablet publishing.
Rather than asking the question "how do we publish our print magazine on the iPad?" the creators of SPIN Play seem to have taken the approach "what do we want to publish on the iPad?" or "how do we extend our brand to the iPad?". Either way, the results have produced a new product that takes advantage of the tablet's capabilities and unique features. And users are raving.
It helps that the publisher is working with Bottle Rocket, the developer behind such great apps as the three NPR apps (including the NPR Music iPhone app), ESPN The Magazine, and others.
The list of apps created by Bottle Rocket is not nearly as long as that of other developers, but the reason for this is simple: a Bottle Rocket app is generally a well-thought out, custom designed application. Rarely are there negative comments about a Bottle Rocket app, and if there are, it usually has to do with the client side of the equation. (Strangely, I don't think I have posted about a Bottle Rocket app before today, my bad.)
By the way, if you really want a digital replica of SPIN, one is available through Zinio.
As for SPIN Play, the tablet app does what I'm sure the editors of the print edition wish print could provide: music, of course. Writing about a new CD for print always is only somewhat satisfying. I love reading old copies of DownBeat with their famous "Blindfold Test" column. In the column musicians listen to new recordings, guess who the artist is, and comment on the music. Reading the column one can almost hear the music in the background and imagine the musician there studiously evaluating the recording.
Tablet publishing can bring the actual music to the reader, while retaining the impact of editorial copy at the same time -- it is one of the reasons there are seasoned publishers (like me) so excited by tablet publishing.
The app is free to download and issues are a very reasonable $1.99 per, or $7.99 for an annual subscription. Inside each issue is 60 songs and 30 videos selected by the editors for inclusion. A reader gets quite a bit for their money.
This is where, in the original post, I wrote about encountering some problems with AirPlay within the app. What I encountered was that the app streamed audio fine to my AirPort Express but nothing to my Apple TV. Yet my other apps were able to stream to Apple TV -- meaning that the source of the problem had to be the SPIN Play app, right?
But after getting an email from Karl Gehrke, QA manager at Bottle Rocket, asking about what problems I seemed to be having I tested the app once again before responding.
This time . . . no problems!
I can't explain what I was encountering with the app because I can't duplicate them, but most importantly everything is working perfectly. This is what I would expect from a Bottle Rocket app, all the apps I have from them have been state-of-the-art.
Here is the magazine's promotional video, courtesy of SPIN and Bottle Rocket: