Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Year starts with few new interesting media apps launched, but lots of updates that pull periodicals into Newsstand

I assumed that few newspapers or magazines would want to launch new tablet editions around the Christmas holiday season, but the trend has continued into the New Year.

Over 60 newspapers and magazines have appeared for the first time inside Apple's Newsstand this week. But of these, only 18 are new apps; and of those 18 new apps, only a couple of these were native designed tablet apps. The vast majority, as has been the trend of late, have come from third party vendors and are simple replica editions.
While I never consider it a good time to release a replica edition that will disappoint readers, releasing a new app now might not be a great idea anyways – especially if the app hasn't been in production long.

Apple will soon announce a date for its iPad 3 introduction, and with it might come an updated version of iOS 5, as well. The speculation is that the new version of the iPad will up the resolution of the display. (There are lots of other crazy rumors out there, but most have to do with launch dates, and I consider them without much merit.)

A higher resolution display won't change much for developers looking to build native designed tablet editions, but for replica makers the resolution change would most likely make their replicas look even worse than they already do.

The resolution change, if it comes, will require different artwork specifications, but little else as Apple is most likely to make the transition pretty smooth for its developers by not launching some crazy resolution set. But what else might be in the pipeline that media app developers should be aware of?

Many media apps already have incorporated AirPlay and Newsstand support. The iPad 2 and the iPhone 4S already support screen mirroring, which makes apps that do not support AirPlay streamable in a different way.

The big changes might not come until later in the year, or beyond. Just as Apple opened up app development to third parties in 2007, it has opened up other features over time, as well: multitasking, AirPlay, notifications.

CSP's new tablet app from Blue Toad: the December issue is extremely slow to download and then difficult to read. But issues may appear even worse if the next iPad has a higher resolution display.

The next biggie might be Siri. The first obvious use of Siri would be to allow the personal assistant to open apps. There is currently a crazy, convoluted way to make Siri do this, but it is no better than simply tapping the app icon.

In the future, Siri might be allowed to interface with third party apps in interesting ways. A user could, for instance, ask Siri to open the Chicago Tribune app and go to the sports section, or even to list any stories about the Bears (all sob stories no doubt).

But is a ways off, I believe. For now, media app developers looking at the iPad should simply see what can be done on the new iPhone 4S that might be added into the iPad's bag of tricks.