Last month Al Jazeera Network launched a digital magazine inside the Apple Newsstand. That app for the iPad has sat on my own tablet for awhile now waiting a post but, well, things have been busy.
Today Al Jazeera updated its app to add in support for the iPhone so now is as good a time as any to take a look at the new tablet-only publication.
The update for AJE Magazine adds iPhone support to the previously iPad-only magazine. But, as you can see below-right, while the app update has made it through Apple's system, the actual issues have not yet been released by the developer. Oops.
OK, no big deal, I'm sure they will be there by the end of the day. So let's take this opportunity to look at the digital magazine as it currently exists on the iPad.
Update: It is now late afternoon and I see that the issue is now showing up on my iPhone. It is very much the same as the iPad edition, but the TOC is omitted as it really wouldn't make much sense on the smaller screen.
"I think the inspiration for it really is one, we have a huge amount of content, which can marry very well into the magazine format, because we have an enormous amount of depth and analysis and features, and video content and infographics etc.,” Will Thorne, acting head of online told Journalism.co.uk's Rachel McAthy last month when the original app was released.
"But also there’s, I think, just a way things have gone with the iPad. It’s such a good platform for digital magazines, it works so well in that format, it just seemed like an obvious thing to do, to dive into that market and see what we could produce."
"I think that will move over time to be honest. I think as we get up ahead of steam and learn from the first edition and hopefully build the editorial team, I think we'll probably try to get more original content in and reversion a little less from the web," Thorne said. "But I think for the magazine to stand out and be something people want to go to I think it's got to retain a fairly high level of original content."
The digital magazine takes advantage of the network's video content, but limits the size of the issues inside the app by limiting the layouts to portrait, and by not embedding the video. Instead, tapping the video icon opens up a new window where the video exists online.
While this saves space on the reader's iPad, and limits the amount of streaming and server storage needed from the publisher, it does mean that the fully enjoy the issue on will need to be connected to the Internet. You won't be reading this digital magazine on a flight (and knowing the craziness of some Americans, I'm sorry to say that you probably wouldn't want to be caught reading AJE on a flight anyways, such is life in the U.S. today).
In the future, when WiFi is ubiquitous this wouldn't be a problem, but should they take this route today? If there is a lot of video content I would probably say that this is the right way to go.
The app update also fixes some bugs and some scrolling issues that apparently existed in the original release. It also improves the resolution of the graphics and text, according to the app description.
Here is a brief walk-through the latest issue as it appears on the iPad. I will be curious to see what the design looks like on the iPhone: