Friday, March 2, 2012

Authentication issue dogs new Fast Company Magazine iPad app; company promises an update

One magazine that many readers would have thought would have been among the first to launch a tablet edition, Fast Company, has finally made its appearance inside the App Store. But readers who already subscribe to the print edition would be wise to wait until this app gets updated before downloading.
The new app from the Mansueto Ventures owned magazine, Fast Company Magazine, appeared yesterday but has only received negative reviews because of a bug the is preventing current print subscribers from having their subscriptions authenticated by the company.

The magazine is well aware of the issue and has taken two steps to inform their readers to expect an update. First, they have included this note at the top of the app description:

NOTE TO PRINT SUBSCRIBERS: We are aware of the bug in the authentication process, it will be fixed very soon - thank you for your patience.
Second, the executive editor for Fast Company, Noah Robischon, has gone into iTunes and posted their own five-star review in order to quell the criticism from readers upset at the subscription bug:

Shortly after launching the app today we discovered an authentication bug that is preventing print subscribers from gaining access to their subscription for the iPad edition. We've located and fixed the problem, and an updated version of the app will be available very soon. We apologize for the delay and thank you for your patience. -- Fast Company Executive Editor Noah Robischon

So rather than looking at the finished product, let's give Fast Company some time to work out the kinks of their app.

But in the meantime, we know a bit of what to expect once the app is updated.

Fast Company will be charging $4.99 per issue for individual editions, but will discount the annual subscription to $12.99 (which I assume is 10 issues). This is essentially the same price being offered online for a print subscription ($12.97).

But, as mentioned, current print subscribers will be able to access their issues through the new app for no additional cost.

The app includes a sample preview issue to give readers an idea what to expect. It's pretty small in size, and only can be read in portrait.

I know, from a conversation I had this morning, that Fast Company is working with WoodWing for its digital publishing solutions on this app, so what you get are native tablet layouts utilizing scrolling and swiping within stories (there is only one story in the preview).

I'm sure the development team had wished it has tested out the authentication mechanism a little more thoroughly, but it is possible this is an out-of-app issue that has messed up the debut of their first tablet edition.

Update: Monday, March 5 - as expected, Fast Company has issued an update to its new app that fixes the authentication issue. Reviewers inside iTunes seem to be happy with the app now. Time to download.

Inside iTunes this morning: Davy Jones remembered; the OC Register brings Kindle-like navigation to The Peel

Two famous people died yesterday, but as you'd expect only one graces the front of iTunes this morning.

Steve Jobs was quite The Beatles fan, but like a lot of people who remember the music (and television) from the sixties, he probably also had a soft spot in his heart for the Monkees.
As you've probably heard, Davy Jones, the cute one, died yesterday of a heart attack at the age of 66.

As for the death of Andrew Breitbart, I'll leave that for others to talk about – as did Apple.

Most media firms would be wise to take a break from developing or updating their apps, what with the imminent release of the iPad 3 and the usual iOS update that generally accompanies a major iOS release.

But, of course, there are bugs to be fixed, and the occasional addition of new functionality.

One minor update, that it worth noticing, is for the Orange County Register's The Peel – an app I keep inside iTunes so that I can track updates.

The folks at Freedom Communications issued another update to the app to fix a minor Newsstand issue, but also added Kindle-like navigation to the app. Now readers can simply tap the right or left side of the screen to move to the next story (in addition to swiping). This is a bloody good idea and should be standard on most media apps.

But someone at the Register needs to alert the development team to update the app's app description. It still says that the latest edition of Feb. 09, 2012, and that the issue talks about Valentine's Day gifts.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Nomad Editions updates it three tablet magazine apps, now using the Mag+ platform, as the company's digital publishing philosophy continues to evolve

Nomad Editions has issued new app updates for its three magazine titles within the App Store: Uncorked, Real Eats, and BodySmart. All three iPads are now being built using the Mag+ digital publishing platform.
Despite the major change in publishing platforms, the publishing and pricing strategy will remain the same: each of the digital magazines are being published weekly (actually 48 times per year), and readers can buy monthly subscription for only $0.99, or an annual subscription for $9.99. (Quite the bargain.)

All three magazines can be found inside Apple's Newsstand, as well as online at the Nomad Editions website.

The Mag+ built digital magazines have a look that will be familiar to TNM readers who have seen other magazines built using the publishing solution. The magazines are easy to read, with scrolling text boxes and other features that are native to tablets. The issue of Uncorked that I downloaded weighed in at only 31.6MB, since it was only 28 pages (remember, its appearing weekly). But the magazine utilizes both portrait and landscape layouts and is, in my opinion, a major step in the right direction for the tablet editions.
Nomad Editions, founded by former media banker and Newsweek executive Mark Edmiston, has evolved dramatically since launching in December of 2010.

At that time the goal was to launch individual digital magazines using the Treesaver platform across all digital platforms. But the publishing philosophy has changed quickly, thanks to the launch of the iPad.

"It's sort of like George Patton – the battle plan is good until you start meeting the enemy – we've changed a lot," Edmiston told me this morning. "Originally when I started thinking about this, back in 2009, before we even formed the company, we were very much focused on the phones. We thought the iPhone was really where we wanted to be."

"I was like a lot of people who, when the iPad came out, I said 'nice, but it's just a big iPod touch.'" Edmiston said.

"What has happened in the two years since the tablet has come out … we came to the realization that the world had changed rather dramatically by this device. That people were using were it in a way that no one imagined," Edmiston admitted.

"For magazine-like products, the tablet is where you want to be."

But the change in thinking about tablets has also led to a change in thinking about what should be produced for smartphones.

"What is the product for a smartphone? It should not be looking like a magazine, it should look like something else," Edmiston concludes.

So the plan going forward is to launch new smartphone apps that play off the magazine's and Nomad's brand names, but will be something other than being strictly a digital magazine. The focus, however, will continue to be on the iOS platform.

"If you add iPhones to tablets (the iPad) you have the overwhelming market share, we don't feel compelled to be rushing out and to try and do a lot of different devices."

Left: the store page from Uncorked by Nomad Editions; Middle: a layout that utilizes scrolling with the story, as opposed to (Right) an article that has a text box that uses scrolling to access the content.

But Nomad Editions will be using Mag+ to roll out future Android editions, something that will happen because the company is branching out into custom publishing. Edmiston says the company is working with different companies such as Hemmings Motor News to create new digital publications.

This can happen because the company has been building out its own editorial and production capabilities. Edmiston said that Nomad is now "mostly an editorial operation."

"What we've accomplished is to create the infrastructure, the technology – and now improve the technology with Mag+ – and the human resources, if you will, to be able to take any kind of content… and convert that into a magazine on a tablet."

Edmiston said the biggest challenge his young company has faced is getting the new products. Without an established brand name, or an established base of readership, it is hard to break through the clutter of the App Store or Newsstand.

"The big issue we are facing, which is the problem with everyone going into it, is discovery," Edmiston admitted. "There is so much competition out there, it is really important that we try to get the best product. That's why we led ourselves to work with Mag+."

But these new custom publishing projects should be able to avoid the "discovery" issue because of their client's established brands and loyal customer bases.

So you can be sure that we'll check back in with Nomad when these new products start to roll out and appear online or inside the App Store or Android Market.

A lesson in outsourcing: Boating World Magazine comes to the iPad, though it probably wishes it hadn't

Two stories that go back to the earliest days of Talking New Media joined together in a strange, and pretty entertaining way this morning.

Although TNM likes to state that its launch date was January 4, 2010, in reality the site was live and working about a month earlier than that – kind of a test period to see if I really wanted to do this.

One of the first stories I posted was about Nielsen's decision to shutter Editor & Publisher. The December 10 story followed the sad news that the venerable trade title would be no more thanks to the systematic closing or selling off of titles at the B2B publisher.

One month later TNM reported on the rise again of E&P after the title's assets were purchased by California boating publisher Duncan McIntosh Co. Inc. It was an unlikely marriage that resulted in most of the old publishing team being let go. In the end, it's worked out far better for some of the former staffers than it has for Duncan McIntosh: the editor, Greg Mitchell, is now over at The Nation, while Joe Strupp is at MediaMatters, for instance.

Another story that appeared in the early days of TNM concerned the digital appearance of the Pottery Barn catalog on the iPad. On April 19, 2010, this site wrote about the new Pottery Barn app released by replica maker PixelMags. This was, to me, big news, as there were very few media or advertising apps at that time – the original iPad having been released only the week prior.

Let's just say that it was an inauspicious debut on the iPad for the Williams-Sonoma owned retailer. The app was a glitchy mess and I see that it is no longer in the App Store. The vendor was not exactly happy about my story but, in the end, never spoke directly to me – probably because I was right.

Today the two stories merged with predictable results: PixelMags has launched an app for one of Duncan McIntosh's properties – no, its not E&P, but instead Boating World Magazine.

The horrors of tablet publishing: sometimes you find the name of your company has changed overnight.

The app features an icon that looks like a bad scan of the magazine cover, and is the typical replica edition app.

But unlike some vendors, PixelMags appears to create developer accounts for their customers so that the apps appear under their name rather than the developers. This is, in theory, a good thing. Every time I see a new magazine app, like this Blue Toad app for Ala Moana which appears under the Blue Toad name rather than the name of the publisher (Modern Luxury) it drives me crazy. That it doesn't drive the publishers crazy tells you something about the state of the publishing industry today.

But there is Boating World Magazine, under the name of the publisher, Ducan McIntosh Company Inc.

Really, you just can't make this stuff up.

I guess these two companies are a match made in heaven. I can't wait for the Editor & Publisher iPad app, it should be something to see.

One can't be sure who is at fault here, but whoever created the Apple developer account surely would want to pony up an extra $99 and create a new one under the right name. But the new app, Boating World Magazine, will forever be linked to Ducan McIntosh, so they better get started thinking of new app names.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

MLB launches its new iOS and Android apps: new pricing and app strategy instituted for the 2012 season

As promised, Major League Baseball (MLB) has launched a universal app for the 2012 season. The app is now free to download and does offer some functionality in "lite" mode. It also offers other levels of service for the baseball diehard.

The Philadelphia Phillies are playing the first spring training game today against team from Florida State.

iOS device owners last year complained about having to choose between downloading the iPhone or iPad apps, since each came with a price tag. This year a new app, MLB At Bat, will work on both devices and is free to download.

Here is how the two apps will work for you: if you download the app you can opt to not pay anything. You'll then just have an app that will give you a scoreboard – not very valuable, and there are better options elsewhere; you can then choose AtBat12 which includes a $14.99 one-time fee and a subscription price of $2.99 a month, this is basically the replacement for last year's radio option.

True baseball fans will want to subscribe to MLB.TV. That costs $24.99 per month, but now you can watch games on both your iPhone and iPad, not to mention an AppleTV, if you own one of those devices.

The true test for the new apps won't really come until MLB starts streaming games live. That has always been where the problems with these apps have been. Hopefully MLB has beefed up their servers and can deliver the goods this year. After all, someone has to have a good season, I doubt seriously it will be any of my teams. (Oops, aren't you supposed to be an optimist in the spring?)

Android: MLB has a slightly different way of handling Android. There are two new apps in the Android Market. At Bat Lite is a free app – if you are an MLB.TV subscriber this is the app you need to download, then sign into your account to access the video streams. At Bat, though, will cost you $14.99 – this is the radio app.

You can see why iOS users will be happy with the new apps, while Android users will have to navigate their way around a little.

Based on the reviews inside both the App Store and the Android Market, users are OK with the new apps. But, again, streaming of games has not started yet.

I've checked out Amazon, and as of today, there does not appear to be any MLB At Bat app online at this point.

Tablet media design: the web apps versus native tab apps misses the real issue facing publishers – design

As many TNM readers have been, I've been very interested in the new tablet design start-ups that are experimenting in HTML 5 services for publishers. Companies like Onswipe, Pressly and others are doing interesting things and their solutions may, in fact, be just what the doctor ordered for many publishers.

I've played around with some of the online services that let you build your own tablet compliant websites but have always been put off by the same issue: design.
PhotobucketThe basic look of most of these digital publishing solutions is the RSS feed driven layout of boxes. This is the issue The Guardian recognized when they designed their own native tablet edition. How do you allow for enough flexibility of design, and how do you adjust for story importance? The Guardian's tablet app is a step in the right direction, I thought at the time, but in the end I did not like it enough to subscribe once the free trial period came to an end.

Google's Currents has many of the same problems involving tablet design, but publishers who want to be part of the Google app have few options but to play along – design becomes of secondary importance when the issue is reaching an audience or not.

TabTimeshas launched its own tablet website through Pressly this morning and one can immediately see the advantages and disadvantages of the solution.

The first thing one notices is that the basic design suffers when compared with the regular website seen on the same Safari browser on the iPad – or at least that's my opinion.

But the advantages of these same solutions can be enough to make a publisher choose this solution. A website that built around Flash, or is Flash heavy, would naturally want a web app solution that will work on a tablet. Also, publishers who use long form content may prefer web apps that allow for more natural swipe and scroll options.

One of the big issues I have with web apps is that while they create a new product, the tablet edition, it takes away another, the normal website. My instinct is to always look at new devices and technologies as new and separate mediums. The rise of tablets can create a new platform, but do we want to trade in our web platforms? One might argue that you aren't losing the web platform, you are only making it easier to read on tablets. I strongly disagree.

Just as the OC Register has concluded that its app is for leisure-time reading, so, too are most other tablet publications. If a tab owner wants immediately news and information they will use the tablet's browser, and their expectation is a traditional website.

The same logic is why is distain replica editions in most circumstances. When a publisher moves their print product onto a tablet in the same format they don't lose that print product, but do they really gain a new one? Or are they simply making their old product harder to read?

But I recognize that this may be generational or simply a matter of taste. I drive a used Jaguar rather than a new Nissan Cube.

Maybe the problem lies in my career track: newspapers to magazines. Both platforms are limiting, but page design becomes so much more interesting and exciting in the magazine publishing world. Look and feel, readability and text flow are paramount. A magazine may have a feature article layout it considers "standard" but it tries to limit its use, and the art director uses it only when pressed for time or bored.

Web and tablet design, IMO, is still in the dark ages, design-wise. Web app solutions may be moving the ball forward when it comes to technology and ease of publication, but as for design... well, that's a matter of opinion, isn't it?

Younger voters are tuning out 2012 election news, slowing the growth of the Internet as a major news source

The 2012 election is just not turning on young voters quite the way the 2008 election did - or at least that is one of the possible conclusions to be drawn from a new Pew research survey.

The Pew Research Center for the People & the Press’ 2012 campaign news survey, conducted in early January, asked 1,507 adult voters where they are getting their election news. All media outlets showed either flat growth or a decline in usage. The Internet, as a news source, grew one percent and moved past local newspapers and approached network television news as the source voters use the most.
Cable news fell only two percent to 36 percent, and is now the main source of news for voters.

The slowing in the growth of the Internet as an election news source, Pew's study shows, is entirely caused by the lack of interest being shown by younger voters – something that could seriously hurt the Obama campaign.

In 2008, 42 percent of voters between the age of 19-29 said they regularly learned about the candidates and the campaigns through the Internet. This has fallen to 29 percent, with other outlets not making up the difference.

One giant caveat to the survey is that it was conducted so early in the race and is only now being released. With no Democratic challenger to President Obama, it might be concluded that young people will not get interested in the 2012 election until after the primaries.
This may also explain why the Pew study revealed that social networking sites are low down on the list of news sources, as well. Respondents said that Facebook and Twitter were not being used widely to get campaign information, instead cable news channel CNN, along with Yahoo/Yahoo News, are the leading campaign news sources.

Not surprisingly, those who identify themselves as Tea Party members continue to see most news sources as biased. 74 percent of Tea Party members see the news media as biased, and these same voters continue to get their news from, you guessed it, Fox News.

There is a ton of information in the new Pew study, but since it was conducted in early January, it will need to be updated in the summer to give us a clue as to whether younger voters, in particular, will be energized enough to go to the polls in November.

Short takes: Is it now on to the general election?; U.S. Economy grew at 3% in the last quarter of 2011; Apple now faces the kind of scrutiny Microsoft used to deal with

After all the talk of a possible win in Michigan, following victories in other state primaries, the Santorum campaign's losses last night feel to have a finality to them.

Yes, Mitt Romney was supposedly from Michigan, but that was simply a campaign spot, anyone who has been governor of one state can't really claim another as his home state. So Rick Santorum could have won Michigan last night, despite his wild campaign talk. George Wallace, after all, won the state in 1972. Why not Rick Santorum?

I actually am from Michigan – born there, raised there, went to school there. After 22 years of listening to my fellow Michiganians (or Michiganders, if you like) I headed to the west coast and never looked back. Michigan is a state of Reagan Democrats, Dixiecrat Republicans. It is a state of union members who watch Fox News and hate unions right up until the union picnic.

Or at least, that is the way I remember it. Maybe it is different now. After all, the crazy guy spouting on about the evils of a college education and the dangers of legal contraception lost.

And because of this the whole GOP circus seems to be leaving town. Sure, next week is Super Tuesday. But last night feels like the end to me.

The Commerce Department revised upward its estimate of GDP growth for the final quarter of 2011 to 3.0 percent, from 2.8 percent. GDP growth in the third quarter was at 1.8 percent.

This should be good news for the President as the economy would appear to be turning around. But the numbers are more than a bit fuzzy (at least to me).

Real GDP growth for 2011 came in at 1.7 percent compared to 3.0 percent in 2010, so the question is whether we saw a slowing of the economy in 2011 with an uptick in towards the end that will to further growth this year, or whether the economy overall is grinding to a halt?

The answer will most certainly effect the election season.

Apple sure it getting hammered for privacy issues with its mobile software. Now, I guess, Apple is learning what is was like to be Microsoft these past could decades.

The latest security hole involves access to one's photographs on their iPhone, iPod touch or iPad. It's a big deal, but yet it's not.

This is one of those security holes that no one is claiming is there on purpose – at least no one has claimed that yet. Also, no one is pointing to an app that is using the security hole in location services to access the library.

But Apple's typical response – that is, no response – ends up making this another story the media can play with. Users can expect a software update to fix the problem, but not a quick press release to calm users.

As a result Nick Bilton's story for the NYT is filled with quotes from developers and others about the issue, but only one line that explains that the problem is unintentional: "It is unclear whether any apps in Apple’s App Store are illicitly copying user photos."

Followed, of course, with the inevitable "Apple did not respond to a request for comment."

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Notice that Bonnier has closed down Spa Magazine reaches readers through an email from Apple

A late day email arrived to subscribers of Spa magazine. The email was from Apple and it was sent it inform readers that Bonnier had closed the magazine.

Dear Reader,
Bonnier has advised us that they have discontinued the Spa magazine publication of both print and digital editions.

Bonnier is offering full refunds to subscribers. To receive a refund, you do not have to do anything. Your iTunes account will be credited to your payment method within 5 business days.

iTunes Customer Experience

I attempted to confirm the news by calling the magazine, which is published out of Bonnier's Florida headquarters, but it was after business hours. An email was sent to a press contact but that, too, was unanswered.

I then checked the App Store but Spa Mag, the magazine's iPad app, was still in the store.
But opening the actual app revealed that the magazine will be closing with the Spring 2012 edition. That issue has not hit Apple's Newsstand, which is probably the app remains in the store.

I certainly hope that the staff (what there was of it) was already informed prior to this email going out because it would not exactly be the best way to learn that your magazine has been shuttered (though I have heard of even worse ways to learn this kind of news).

In September of last year Bonnier named Carol Johnson publisher of Spa. Johnson retained her publisher position with another Bonnier magazine, Destination Weddings & Honeymoons. The editor of Spa was also working on Destination Weddings & Honeymoons, Susan Moynihan. Obviously Bonnier was attempting some consolidation of duties to lower costs and to save the title.

Spa was a six-time print magazine, but the last print edition appears to have been the September/October issue of 2010. As a digital magazine the last issue inside the magazine's app is dated Winter 2012. The only other issue available is Winter 2011. Obviously Spa was not long for this world, having lost its print edition a while ago, and with digital editions appearing infrequently.

The magazine's website is still silent on the fate of the title, and the last blog entry was three weeks ago, and entries were pretty sporadic as it was.

In any case, this has to be a first: Apple is the one breaking news that a magazine has been shuttered.

Another web property, The Next Web, launches its own tablet magazine using the Mag+ platform

Another web-only property has seen the wisdom of launching a tablet-only magazine in support, and as a supplement to, its web property. The Next Web, an Internet tech and news site, has launched TNW Magazine into the App Store and its first issue is available as of today.
TNW Magazine joins Engadget Distro in Apple's Newsstand, though while the AOL property is giving away its tablet magazine, The Next Web hopes to sell subscriptions to TNW Magazine. Issues will be $0.99 per issue, or $9.99 for an annual subscription (£6.99 in the UK).

The concept of launching a tablet magazine in support of a web property is exactly what I have been thinking of for the past year. These two new tablet magazine definitely make me more than a little jealous. But the reason TNM has not launched its own iPad magazine is because of the economics involved. While using a digital publishing solution like Mag+, which is how The Next Web built its magazine, is not terribly expensive, it is definitely too much for a site like Talking New Media (sadly).

TNW Magazine is a typical Mag+ digital magazine – and that is meant as a compliment. The magazine features good native layouts with fonts that are easy to read and do not require pinch-to-zoom in order to make out what is written.

The first few pages of the preview of the premiere issue of TNW Magazine.

The app contains a preview of the current issue, seen at left. The actual issue contains an animated cover, which you can see here.

The trick to a digital magazine tied to a web property is, of course, having content that works in magazine form and is not just repurposed web content.

TNW Magazine does this well with its feature articles, less well with its news bits.

The problem is that B2B and tech may not be the best areas to launch one of these digital magazines, though it is good to see The Next Web making the effort. One currently doesn't see any of the media or advertising industry trade publications inside Newsstand, that's for sure.

Retweet: Crain's Chicago Business says new Sun-Times owner to remake the tab into the NY Post of the Midwest

The headline above pretty much tells the whole story: Michael Ferro, the wealthy new owner of the Chicago Sun-Times, who grew up on Long Island, wants to remake the struggling tabloid into the New York Post of the Midwest. Or so Crain's Chicago Business is reporting.

I really have very little else to add to the story, really. But the story, and its Post angle, reminds me of an episode at another struggling daily newspaper. That story, having already played out, might give readers an idea about how all this will play out.

In the early to mid-eighties Hearst Newspapers were trying desperately to figure out what to do with its daily newspaper in Los Angeles. The Herald Examiner had once been the dominate paper – or papers, really – in Los Angeles. Hearst owned the Herald Examiner. That paper was the result of the company merging its two properties, the Herald Express with the Examiner, in 1962.

Probably the quintessential New York Post headline,
now reportedly the model for the Chicago Sun-Times.

Hearst's decision to merge its two papers, while its competitor, Times-Mirror, merged its two papers, left the growing city with just two dailies that would split up the advertising and readers instead of four.

Hearst, being the giant media company compared to Times-Mirror, decided that it would be the afternoon paper, leaving the Los Angeles Times as the morning paper. To say that this was a stupid decision would be an understatement. But more was to come.

In 1967 the employees of the Herald Examiner went on strike as a result of the company playing hardball with its employees. In the end, Hearst "won" in that the original unions were broken. But the strike lasted ten years, cost the company millions of dollars, and left the Los Angeles Times in practically a monopoly situation. But more was to come.

Los Angeles was still growing – into the Valley and into Orange Country. Both Hearst and Times-Mirror found it hard to move into the new areas with any strength. Actually, Times-Mirror found it hard, Hearst didn't really try. As a result, Freedom Communication's Orange County Register surpassed the Herald Examiner in circulation in 1982 (if memory serves me correctly). I was, by this time, out of college, and working at the Herald Examiner.

Hearst wanted to turn the paper around, but didn't want it to cost money. The old, underground presses were long past their prime, but buying new ones was, apparently, out of the question. One new publisher after another came to Los Angeles from New York, looked at the situation, proposed something or other, and then beat it out of town - to be replaced by another New Yorker.

The best solution proposed was the most expensive one: the Herald Examiner would produce an all color newspaper, printed on nice presses and great newspaper stock. Several prototype issues were produced of the Sunday paper – I have at least two samples – they were gorgeous. And they, did I not say, they were expensive to produce. The experiment was chucked, and the publisher went away.

Media app updates: The Independent moves into Apple's Newsstand; Condé Nast and Bonnier begin issuing app updates to their stable of magazines

Publishers are getting used to the idea that their media apps are never a finished product, that they require frequent updates – not only to fix bugs, but to add new features as Apple and Google change their mobile and tablet operating systems.
The UK daily newspaper, The Independent, updated its iPad app and moved it into Apple's Newsstand. The Independent, the app, that is, remains free to download and the content remains free for new readers for a limited time.

If you are a US readers you'll find that the app is not offering subscriptions. The app description clearly states that the subscription price is £9.99 per month, but the user is not prompted to buy a subscription, and the app description does not contain any information on in-app purchases (found on the lower left side of the app description).

But the UK app description is different – there you see that the newspaper will be charging £9.99 per month for a digital subscription within the app.

I don't know if this means that The Independent will be using a dual strategy – paid in the UK, free in the U.S. – or whether the app will again update and US readers will begin being charged for accessing the content.

The app copies the look and feel of the NYT's iPad app, but the content is pretty limited (something that is not a problem when the product is free, but one that might generate complaints once a subscription is required).

Condé Nast issued app updates for both The New Yorker and Vanity Fair. The updates, at least as I can see, are fairly minor.

Bonnier has started to issue updates to its magazine apps, as well. Saveur, Field & Stream, American Photo+, Garden Design Mag, and possibly others have been updated in the past few days.

It's easy to see which magazine apps to download from Bonnier. The magazines that add a "+" to the back of their names – American Photo+ or Popular Science+ or Popular Photography+ – are the ones that are using the Mag+ digital publishing solution to produce the tablet editions. The other magazines are simple replica editions.

Most readers have more to complain about than just disappointing PDF versions of the print editions. The publisher continues to not offer their print subscribers free access to the digital editions, forcing them to pay twice to subscribe. The move appears to generating quite a bit of resentment among their customers, but the policy remains in place.

Monday, February 27, 2012

St. Louis Post-Dispatch launches baseball iPhone and iPad apps in plenty of time for the 2012 season

Last year the Boston Herald raced to get their new baseball app into the App Store in time for Opening Day. They ended up succeeding far more than the Red Sox, who suffered an epic late season collapse.

Last year's spring training was very much anticipated by us Giants fans. Coming off an improbable World Series win, we were looking forward to 2011 – why not us again? But 2011 was a disaster, and 2012 looks pretty bleak, indeed. Who will get hurt this year? Will anyone hit over .250? When will the pitching staff give up and all leave for Japan?
Last year's champions, the St. Louis Cardinals, were equally improbable. The team ended up the season six games behind the Milwaukee Brewers and only became the wild card team thanks to the Atlanta Braves pulling a late season dive that matched that of the Red Sox.

Yes, the 2011 will be remembered more for its memorable failures than for the great successes – except in St. Louis.

In the end, of course, it was the Cardinals that won it all – something they have done more than might otherwise be expected of a team not from New York. But then again, St. Louis is a great, great baseball town – which I know people here in Chicago hate to admit. (Fans here in Chicago think they have a rivalry with the Cardinals. But the folk in St. Louis know better.)

Washington Post releases iPad app for the political season; tablet app is a mix of free and paid content

The Washington Post, which often sees itself trailing the New York Times in both news coverage and app development, has one-upped their rival by launching a new iPad app dedicated to 2012 election coverage.

Post Politics is a free app that, for the most, part offers readers free access to the Post's editorial coverage of the election season.
"Our goal for this app was to cut through the clutter of the campaign to bring it alive and provide everything you need to know in new and compelling ways," writes Steven Ginsberg of the Post about the new app.

"We put a heavy focus on photos and video to bring all of the pomp and pageantry of a presidential campaign to your screen. Everyone wants to know where the candidates stand on the issues, but no one wants to read through a laundry list of stances. So we came up with an engaging experience that shows at a glance how the candidates differ from each other and whether they've switched positions. We also wanted to take some of the Post's best features to a new level. Many of the fact checks, for example, include video of the comments in question. And just for a little fun, when a candidate starts fibbing, Pinocchio's nose starts growing. Lastly, this is not an automated experience -- Post editors will update the app throughout the day," Ginsberg wrote.

The Post's app almost three months after the NYT released its own political app, NYTimes Election 2012. But the NYT app is for the mobile devices only, while the Post's app is obviously a tablet affair – and apparently for the iPad only at this point.

The advantages of one platform over the other are fairly obvious: where the NYT's app is a great way to watch the election returns as they come in, the Post's app is better for reading columns and news reports on the campaign season – one is for instant information, the other for leusure-time reading.
The majority of the content is free. But if you are really a campaign junkie, or maybe even a member of a campaign, you would want to sign up for the premium content, available for $2.99 a month.

The premium content is to be found in the section called Campaign Files. Archived stories can be found with a lock icon on them. Tapping them immediately brings up a subscription dialog box.

Neither this new app, nor the older The Washington Post for iPad app will be found inside Newsstand – though I suppose this one doesn't really belong there.

Although somewhat late to the party, I don't think it is too late to be releasing this app, especially since the Republican nomination is not wrapped up as of yet (two important primaries, Arizona and Michigan, are tomorrow).

We'll see if any of the major newspapers have learned their lesson concerning timely launching of baseball apps as the first spring training games are only a couple days away (Hint, one paper already has). MLB's updated apps are due on the 29th. (The Helena Brewers, I see, have a new iPhone app!)

Travelocity launches a new iPad app; Adobe Photoshop Touch, Adobe's a low cost, throttled picture editor

Texas based Travelocity has released a new iPad that will allow travelers to book flights, hotel rooms and rental cars.
"This is not your typical mobile app," said Carl Sparks, President and CEO, Travelocity Global. "Travelocity for iPad can easily replace your PC to search and book flights, hotels and cars, whether you are sitting on your couch or riding in a taxi. It's also possible to read user reviews, view maps, filter search results, and track where you've been and where you are going."

The free app, Travelocity for iPad, features a great icon – it's famous gnome. But the app does not support landscape mode, which makes it feel very much like a simply porting over of its mobile applications.

But the app will get the job done: the app features a clean design, and the hotel room pictures look all that much better on the iPad's display.
To celebrate the launch of the app, Travelocity is holding a Twitter sweepstakes.

The sweepstakes is now through March 2 with winners getting an Apple gift card worth $500 (that will get you a new iPad).

If you are interested visit

The new app joins a pretty crowded field of travel apps. Priceline, still featuring William Shatner's picture on its icon, Expedia, all have their own tablet and mobile apps. Additionally, most airlines have now launched tablet apps for their iPad owning customers.

Adobe has launched its much anticipated iPad version of Photoshop.

Adobe Photoshop Touch is a $9.99 app that has so far received good marks from reviewers inside the App Store. The app only will support the iPad 2 due to the original iPad's low system memory, and users should update their iOS software to iOS 5.

I still am using my original iPad so I have no original screenshots to share, nor any direct personal experience with the app.

Short takes: New WikiLeaks email dump targets Stratfor, a U.S.-based global security company; Leveson inquiry highlights the corruption of the police by media payoffs

The workings of Sratfor, U.S.-based global security analysis company, that Reuters describes as a "shadow CIA", was exposed early this morning with the release of five million hacked emails.

Reuters reported very early this morning on the new data dump by WiliLeaks of the Austin, Texas company. Strafor's CEO immediate responded trying to spread doubt about the authenticity of some of the emails obtained when the company's data systems were hacked last December, claiming that some of the releaed emails "may be forged or altered to include inaccuracies."

According to the WikiLeaks website, the emails "reveal the inner workings of a company that fronts as an intelligence publisher, but provides confidential intelligence services to large corporations, such as Bhopal’s Dow Chemical Co., Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and government agencies, including the US Department of Homeland Security, the US Marines and the US Defense Intelligence Agency."

The Strafor website describes the company as "a subscription-based provider of geopolitical analysis. Individual and corporate subscribers gain a thorough understanding of international affairs, including what’s happening, why it’s happening, and what will happen next."

So far this morning the vast majority of the media world appears to be in the dark concerning the data dump, with neither the NYT or Guardian, two newspapers that have in the past been intimately involved in WikiLeaks data dumps, silent on the new disclosures. This may be due to the fact that WikiLeak's list of media "partners" in the email dump list only one US or UK media outlet – McClatchy.

Update: The NYT has just posted this story on the WikiLeaks email dump. Also, TalkingPointsMemo posted a short notice on the email dump shortly after midnight last night, though they were not listed as one of WikiLeak's "partners" on the story.

Julian Assange of WikiLeaks held a press conference in London to discuss the latest data dump. According to The Independent, Assange described Strafor this way:

On the surface it presents as if it's a media organisation providing a private subscription intelligence newsletter.

"And what we have discovered is a company (Strafor) that is a private intelligence Enron.

"But underneath it is running paid informants networks, laundering those payments through the Bahamas, and through Switzerland, through private credit cards.

"It is monitoring Bhopal activists for Dow Chemicals, Peta activities for Coca-Cola.

"It is engaged in a seedy business."

While the U.S. website for The Guardian is leading with the Oscars and Syria, the U.K. site has dedicated its lead story to the new revelations about The Sun, one of its main rivals in the U.K.

The headline this morning reads "Police chief tells Leveson the Sun had 'culture of illegal payments to sources', and talks about the testimony of Deputy Assistant Commissioner Sue Akers to the Leveson inquiry.

The testimony outlines what Akers describes as the "culture" of illegal payments by The Sun, Rupert Murdoch's News International tabloid newspaper.

"There appears to have been a culture at The Sun of illegal payments, and systems have been created to facilitate such payments whilst hiding the identity of the officials receiving the money," Akers testified according to the written statement submitted to the inquiry (PDF of written testimony).

"The emails indicate that payments to "sources" were openly referred to with The Sun, with teh category of public official being identified, rather than the individual's identity," the written statement continues.

"There is a recognitionby the journalists that this behavior is illegal, reference being made to staff 'risking losing their pension or job', to the need for'"care" and to the need for "cash payments". There is also an indication of 'tradecraft;', i.e. hiding cash payments to "sources" by making them to a friend or relative of the source. The evidence further suggests that the authority level for such payments to be made, is provided at a senior level within the newspaper."