Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Red Bull Media House updates its app for the U.S. digital edition of Red Bulletin adding background downloading

The Austrian beverage company Red Bull continues to publish its branded magazine in both print and digital. Red Bulletin comes in four different language editions – English, French, Spanish and German – each with its own app. The US edition, The Red Bulletin US, was updated today to fix some app bugs and to add background downloading of issues.

The app description also asks readers to update their apps so that they will be able to view upcoming issues. Despite the update, I didn't notice much different in the app itself besides background downloading.

The original app was first launched in May of last year with Tim Lincecum of the SF Giants on the cover (the Giants had won the World Series the previous year). Lincecum proceeded to have a pretty awful year so maybe there is a Red Bulletin curse just like there is supposedly one for appearing on the cover of Sports Illustrated. Though, to be fair, Lincecum had an even worse year this year, though the Giants did win the World Series again in '12.

Red Bulletin is always a fun digital magazine to look at because of its extensive use of video. Being a sports/adventure magazine, I suppose it gets little love from the tech community, about as far away from the target audience as I could imagine. While iPad owners gravitate to Red Bulletin tech writers prefer Marco Arment's The Magazine. That alone should tell you all you need to know about the differences in audiences.

Red Bulletin continues to be produced to be read in landscape, a logical choice considering its use of video. But I would like to point out that Red Bull Media House, the publishing arm of the beverage company, has made sure that the app icon is in portrait. One might question the choice since the digital magazine is to be read in landscape but I think it is the right thing to do. A portrait app icon looks better both inside the App Store and in Newsstand. Plus, if magazines should decide to do exclusively portrait app icons, and newspapers landscape, the reader ends up with a better looking and easier to use Newsstand app.

Here is another walk-through video, this one of the beginning of the January issue of the U.S. edition of Red Bulletin: