Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Two new tablet apps show that spending time on native layouts will result in a better tablet reading experience

It is always a joy to download new iPad apps that prove to be a joy to read – the experience is far too rare these days. But these two apps (below) show the value in investing in native tablet production.

The first app comes from the German publisher CHIP Communications GmbH for its namesake magazine CHIP. The app is free to download and provides readers with free previews of the magazine editions found inside.
Each issue costs $3.99 per issue, or the reader can subscribe for three months at $9.99, $19.99 for 6 months, or an annual subscription at $37.99 (obviously the prices are different in the German App Store, for instance individual issues cost € 2.99).

The previews give the reader more than enough content to make a decision. More importantly, it shows the reader what the reading experience will really be like: landscape and portrait layouts, native page design which includes scrolling within pages, etc.

The issues open with an animated cover, which can be somewhat annoying because every time one encounters the page the animation plays again. But the animation is kept to a minimum at least.

This app has been in the App Store for several months now, but an app update was issued today to fix various bugs. The reader response to the app has been generally very favorable, with most complaints in the German App Store centering on the subscription prices being charged rather than the app itself.

Left: CHIP can be read in both portrait and landscape, with the ads redesigned to fit both orientations; Right: the TOC is simple and cleverly designed for the iPad reading experience.

A new app for Kent State University was released yesterday into the App Store. Developed by iMirus, the digital publishing division of Riggs Heinrich Media, the app is can be found inside Newsstand and is free to download, as is the content inside.

My expectations were that I would find replica editions of the campus brochures, but was pleasantly surprised to find that the brochures have been redesigned to be read on the iPad, taking advantage of native design ideas such as text boxes, embedded video, etc.

As a result, the app is very easy to use and read. The app was a bit sluggish on my first generation iPad (for this reason I am looking forward to getting iPad 3 when released), and gave me a memory warning when I played the Crooked River Adventures video found inside. But it did not crash, I might add.

Rather than using adjustable fonts, the app relies on pinch-to-zoom, which I found odd, but otherwise the app worked fine. But the developer iMirus has other apps inside the App Store that have pretty negative reviews due to performance issues (such as the negative reviews for Charisma Media Magazine). This app, then, appears to be a major improvement over the previous apps released by iMirus.
Left: The school President's opening page, with a scrollable text box; Right: the Crooked River Adventures article containing the embedded video.