Friday, February 1, 2013

Magazine apps that received major updates... get updated again: The Kit gets an iPhone version, but will need another update; American Express Publishing issues new updates following last week's major app revisions

Yesterday, in TNM's look at the Newsstand inside the Canadian App Store, one of the new apps looked at was the impressive tablet edition for the magazine The Kit (link to TNM story) from the Toronto Star Newspapers. The new version of the digital magazine – the previous app was from Texterity – was natively designed and featured quite a bit of interactivity.

This morning The Kit (U.S. App Store link) received an update that now makes the app universal, introducing a new iPhone version of the magazine. Unlike the iPad version of the most recent issue, the iPhone version is trimmed back to only 36 MB in size, and while this is altogether appropriate for a mobile version of a magazine, the iPhone version is not built for the iPhone 5.
 photo TheKit-iPhone5-sm_zpsfade814f.jpg
If this update had been issued in September or October of last year one could understand why the app was not supporting the iPhone 5, but here we are on February 1st and most apps have long since been updated to add support for the iPhone 5. (I've had a new version of the TNM for iPhone app ready to launch since the fall, but have never released it precisely because of its lack of iPhone 5 support.)

Because the digital version of The Kit involves elongated pages that require scrolling, the lack of iPhone 5 support is very apparent. I assume we'll see yet another update to this app soon enough.

Just last week American Express Publishing issued major updates to its magazine apps inside the Apple Newsstand that transitioned the apps to a new file format. Today the apps were updated once again, and the app description repeats much of the same text seen in the previous update.

I suspect, however, that this update has something to do with what I saw in FOOD & WINE following the update last week:
I was a bit confused by the latest issue, however, as it has "Coming Soon" buttons all over the place. Was this a slip-up, or will the editors be updating this issue now that the app update is live? I guess we'll see in the days to come
Looking at the February issue this morning I see that all those "Coming Soon" areas are gone and the app edition now looks complete. Whether this was solved by the update today, or by earlier efforts I don't know, but the digital magazines look just fine today.

In addition to FOOD & WINE, Travel + Leisure was also updated today.
 photo FampW-Feb-page-sm_zps02dc240f.jpg

There were other media app updates, most of which seem minor: Crain Communications has updated Business Insurance Tablet Edition to version 1.0.1 to fix minor bugs; Red Bull has updated The Red Bulletin US for the same reason, plus you will now find the new February issue inside, as well.

Two apps have been updated following Apple's release of iOS 6.1: KIDS DISCOVER, built by Joe Zeff Design, has a new update that lists iOS 6.1 as motivation for the update (see December's post on this app's release); and Fast Company Magazine has received an update, listing iOS 6.1 as the reason (this is one of the few apps I've seen that actually lists a phone number for app support inside its app description).

Finally, United Airlines Hemispheres Magazine has received an update. The app is seen under the name "Ink", and was not receiving good reviews inside the App Store.
 photo UnitedAirines-ink-adpg-sm_zpsd447d7d8.jpg
But today's update lists "updated interface" as the reason for the update – that usually means the library and store pages, rather than the digital magazine itself.

The app today has the February issue inside, which weighs in at 167.8 MB and is what I would describe as a hybrid edition – reproducing the ads as seen in print with at least some of the pages reformatted for the tablet. In this particular app, the editorial pages can be read in landscape while the reader is encouraged to turn the iPad to see the print ads in portrait (see above-right).

It's not a bad digital magazine, though the February issue did freeze on me a couple of times, forcing me to shut it down and reopen it.