Monday, February 13, 2012

Air France brings its airline magazine to the iPad; tablet edition is a tour de force, but also a slow download

If you want to see a tablet magazine that has all the bells and whistles in it, the best place to look is usually at the magazines from the automotive companies. These apps, often produced by their advertising agencies, spare no expense in their development, and are usually free of charge because of their promotional nature.
The new tablet edition from Air France fits that description, as well. The app, Air France Magazine, is free to download, and offers its in flight magazine free, as well.

Air France Magazine, the app, appears under the Societe Air France S.A. name, while the magazine is published by Gallimard, with advertising sold by Lagardère Publicité.
One knows immediately that the February issue contained in the iPad app is huge – despite it not showing its size – as it takes forever to download the issue. I have a general rule I like to follow regarding issue download speeds: if my iPad goes to sleep during the download then the issue is too large, or the download speeds too slow. In the case of Air France Magazine, you wouldn't want to download the issue just prior to boarding the plane because you would most likely miss your flight.

Once you open up the issue, though, it becomes apparent why it took so long to download. The issue utilizes both portrait and landscape orientations, contains animation, and the navigation is very attractively done.

The publisher has made sure that the ads can be viewed in both orientations – that always takes a lot of work to get copy for both layouts.
But the in flight magazine also makes sure that English language readers won't be left behind either. While it is clear from the headlines that the original language of the magazine is French, each story can be read in English by toggling the French/English button.

(By the way, I want to let you know that creating that animated GIF seen above that shows the language mechanism was a real pain to create.)

I'll have to live with the magazine a while before I come to any conclusions about whether all this work is, in the end, worth it. But the tablet edition certain looks great, and functions well (after that initial download).

In the meantime, here is another app that publishers will want to look at to see what creative publishers, developers and agencies are doing with their own tablet editions. You certainly can't beat the price, and it might be a nice read while on a long flight, even if you aren't traveling on Air France.


Tony Redhead said...

Wow, you weren't kidding when you said you'd miss your plane. I went and made coffee, had breakfast and it was still downloading by the time I got back to the iPad.

It's actually not that big at 221mb.

I like parallax sliding and it can be quite effective if used in moderation. I find the use of it on every page a bit overwhelming and it must add considerable time to their production having to isolate so many individual elements.

Anonymous said...

Where do you see the file sizes of these magazine issues? Some times they are seen when you download them, some times they aren't.

Tony Redhead said...

I use Phone Disk. It allows you to mount your iPad as a USB Disk Drive. You can then see all the content on it. I can see the issue folder and get the file size.