Thursday, February 9, 2012

Smithsonian Institution releases a new iPad app for Smithsonian Magazine: a well-designed, brilliantly executed and entertaining tablet edition

Buried within the mass of replica editions released over the last 24 hours I found a new iPad app for Smithsonian Magazine. The app, the third for the iPad from the Smithsonian, is as well-designed and inventive as you might expect from the institution.
The free app can be found inside Apple's Newsstand, and offers a free preview issue (the December issue), so publishers will want to download the app just to take a good look. Readers can buy an annual subscription for $19.99, or a monthly one for $1.99. Individual issues are priced at $3.99.

Print subscribers get free access (as they should).

I downloaded the preview issue simply because it was there (and I can't possibly buy every magazine released for the iPad, can I?).

The December issue is 230MB and downloaded very quickly. Yes, very quickly, thank you. Readers will love that, especially travelers looking to download something in a hurry before boarding a plane.

The issue opens with a very short video. Now I know some consider this a gimmick, but if done well I think creatives should have this in their bag of tricks to pull out when they want. I loved the cover (which you can see below), and video simply told me that this was, indeed, designed for the iPad.

“This technology will change the nature of magazines in a fundamental way, while preserving the core experience of a magazine as curated content,” Bill Allman, chief digital officer at Smithsonian Enterprises said online of the new app. “What’s great about these new tools is that they take a magazine like Smithsonian, in particular, to a whole other dimension."

Maria Keehan, Smithsonian Magazine’s art director, clearly plans to use the new digital edition to bring added material to tablet readers. "Where you see one picture in the magazine, there might be three on the app that are equally as beautiful,” said Keehan. In our cover story on the Haleakala Crater in Hawaii, actually being able to hear a person’s voice—you can watch a video of Clifford Naeole chanting the traditional Hawaiian songs—is so incredible.”

There is no reason to go into all the details of the magazine, you can check it out yourself. But I will be interested to see if anyone can come up with any reason to complain about this one: it loads fast, offers free access to print subscribers, discounts the subscription for new readers, and is well designed. I suppose should pusher of PDFs will have to post a negative review, just for kicks.

1 Comment:

Tony Redhead said...

Okay I'll come up with a complaint about the Smithsonian Magazine. It's not available in the Australian store only the US! Hey guys we can read American English down here.