Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Morning Brief: Mag+ updates review app to add iPhone 5 support; NYT updates its iPad app; Atlantic Media's responsive design website is really designed for mobile and tablets, a possible miss on the desktop

The flood of app updates following the release of both the new iPhone 5 and iOS 6 has been reduced to a trickle, but several important updates were issued overnight.

Mag+ updated its reviewer app once again. Version 4.0.1 comes only days following the previous update which made the app universal.

The new update to Mag+ Reviewer adds support for the new iPhone 5 which sports a 4-inch display rather than the older model's 3.5-inch.
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Reviewer apps are used, of course, in the creation of tablet and mobile apps to render the design so the production staff can see their work as if it were live. The production person builds their Mag+ platform app in InDesign then with the push of a button the work is exported to the Reviewer app.

The New York Times has updated its iPad edition, NYTimes for iPad. The update makes the iPad app iOS 6 compliant.

One thing one notices right away in iTunes is that the NYT app continues to say that the latest issue is November 23, 2011. This is the fault of Apple's system which gives developers an area called "What's New In This Issue" where they can add information about their app. The area is a leftover from days when magazine publishers would update their apps every issue – something done by some publishers before Apple created Newsstand. Newspaper app developers have no reason to use the area, but once used it shows up in iTunes until the text is eliminated or updated.
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Atlantic Media launched Quartz, a new business news site. The site has gathered some press attention, mainly for its use of responsive design.

The new site looks great on the iPad and on smartphones, but like many responsive designed sites, Quartz looks rather silly on the desktop.

In an age of smaller laptops and tablets, many web designers have fallen in love with responsive design and the design-once approach. Like the box look for Flipboard, sites like Quartz have many art directors excited.

For me, someone who works with two large displays, reading Quartz on my computer is like sitting in the front row at an IMAX movie.

Reporting yesterday on the new website, AllThingsD's Peter Kafka brought up the fact that Quartz has launched without an app and will have to compete against other financial news sites, especially the Financial Times with one hand tied behind their back (my words, not his).

I think Kafka is very much right about the problems of having to depend solely on ad revenue, but TNM readers might be surprised to know that I am not all that concerned about the app part.

While I think it is wise for any New Media venture to launch immediately with apps, it is not essential if the focus on first on the web.

The problem I have with Quartz, at least given my first impressions, it that the team seems to have a lack of understanding of the reading habits of digital media consumers. Quartz appears to feature long form journalism, yet is web oriented and without an app.

Reading studies conducted of digital media readers show that the web is best for short bites, while tablets best for leisurely reading. A web app that mimics tablet formats doesn't change the reading habits of consumers.

In other words, Quartz looks like a mismatch of design. But let's give it a few weeks and months to see how things go. In general, I like what I am seeing out of The Atlantic, so maybe Quartz is on the right track.

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