Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The Smithsonian Institution launches a 2nd Newsstand app, a redesigned tablet edition for Air & Space magazine

The Smithsonian Institution has launched its second Newsstand magazine app, a native tablet edition for its title Air & Space Magazine.

The digital edition is reformatted and redesigned for the iPad, converting the conventional magazine design (portrait) for one that probably works better on the iPad, considering the fact that photographs of aircraft are best seen in landscape.

The Smithsonian's first Newsstand is also a very nice native tablet edition. But the app has been getting some very nasty reviews from readers lately due to problems with the subscription process that have not, apparently, been fixed. But those not having difficulties appear to be very happy with the digital edition.

The new app for Air & Space comes with a complete sample issue (May), while the newest issue, and future issues, will cost $3.99. A 1-month subscription is priced at $1.99, and an annual sub will cost you $19.99. The magazine is published seven times a year, so the pricing is a bit complicated, plus the publisher says in the app description that they "may occasionally publish extra issues."

One has to give the publisher credit here for not mindlessly porting over their print product to tablets, but instead giving serious thought to how their magazine should appear on a tablet (this is not a universal app, but strictly for the iPad and iPad mini).

The layouts are not over complicated, there are no floating text boxes (a big feature of Mag+ built apps, for instance) but are simple one page designs (though sometimes with interactive material like photo galleries).

At the heart of the magazine is its photography and while I do not subscribe to the print edition, my guess would be that tablet owners will find the new design here very exciting and most appropriate.