I installed the Wired magazine for the iPad to see what the next generation of print media on a portable, touchscreen device could be like. Being a developer, I easily realize the amount of effort and planning that went into this project and this issue.
It’s expensive, but this is cutting-edge technology, so I felt dropping the $4.99 for it was warranted. The amount of development that went into this needs to be paid for I suppose. If it was free I’d assume it wouldn’t have the amount of features currently present. It’s still expensive though.
The navigation is unique and sometimes frustrating. Sometimes you can merely swipe side to side to navigate sections, but sometimes a swipe from side to side will move you down a page – where without paying careful attention… you wouldn’t expect the vertical movement through material. It’s certainly experimental and this is the first digital edition presented like this, so perhaps that will improve. In general I don’t feel like I am in total control… I find myself swiping all over the place to see what will happen. When I swipe around on a static page that doesn’t do anything but merely contains text and non-interactive photos I feel kind of stupid for having tried to interact. Some of the animations are a bit contrived and only in the issue to show off some interactivity. I suppose we want to feel like we got our money’s worth.
If the videos played inline, I’d like them more… going full screen makes the content feel disconnected. This is probably due to how video is handled on the iPhone/iPad… it’s probably there to present video as large as possible (to the user’s benefit) and to also not have to worry about more than one video being rendered at a time (processor and memory issues), but it would be nice if videos could play inline. If another instance of a video played in a view, pause the other(s). I’m not an iPad OS developer so I don’t know the actual ramifications, but inline video for this Wired magazine would seriously rock. It would help everything feel more cohesive.
Scrubbing the mars thing is probably cycling through a series of images, but since it’s done inline in the page, doesn’t it feel better than the videos?
The magazine weighs in at over 500 megabytes. That’s freaking huge. There is a lot of embedded media in the issue, so that’s okay… but couldn’t some of that be streamed? If the device wasn’t online those aspects of the magazine would be unavailable. Perhaps not ideal, but I don’t see anyone ganging up a lot of issues on the device since they consume so much room. In a perfect world, the size of the issue would be fine and dandy. But in the scope of moving forward, it seems like it will bump up against storage issues at some point. Easily worked around, but this is a magazine, not an interactive text book. Since this kind of material is transient and soon outdated, maybe users will simply prune the content on their own. I am on the fence ultimately about the file size. But be aware of it.
No searching. Boo. No bookmarks. Boo. No pinch and zoom. Boo. It’s not easy to re-find information that you want to read or experience again. Is it better than a printed version? Almost.
Ads. Ads. And even more ads. This issue is loaded with ads. Not exactly to my liking. Especially since the issue isn’t cheap. If it didn’t have all of those ads, would this issue cost $20? Yikes.
To end this quick review it’s very nice to see companies going out there and hanging their onions out trying something new. It’s not horrible by any means, it’s a glimpse to what the future of digital media could be. Baby steps, and this is a decent first step. I am fairly pleased with the magazine and I feel that with improvements it could really be something amazing.