Wired iPad Magazine video thing

February 17, 2010

Following on from the story below, Adobe yesterday released the above video looking at their involvement with Condé Nast’s Wired magazine. I think this looks ace. Maybe not quite as slick as the Sports Illustrated demo seen last year but easily the best thing we’ve seen on the iPad.

Will Condé Nast roll all their titles out like this? I’d bet my last Rolo GQ will be released shortly after Wired and hopefully Vogue as well, it’s photography would look sweeeet on an iPad.

Interesting thing is it’s built by Adobe no doubt using Flash and then exported to iPad. But the good thing is Flash CS5 can also export to AIR, making it a viable eMag solution for other tablets and computers without the need for Flash browser support.

There are over 50 magazine titles already available for the iPad, and it’s not even on the market yet. There are also strong rumors that a dedicated iMagazine store may still be coming to the iPad after it’s launch and with it, a standard digital format for magazines (like .epub for books).

In the meantime Wired looks set to rule the iPad in terms of digital magazines. And that’s exactly what you’d expect from them, hats off to you.



Wired Magazine to launch on iPad by summer

February 16, 2010

Everyones favorite posh publishers Condé Nast, have announced that their kick-ass Wired magazine will indeed grace the touching screens of Jobs’ latest creation by this summer.

Announced at the awesome 2010 TED conference by Wired’s Chris Anderson and Adobe’s Jeremy Clark the news was no surprise really, in fact it was an inevitability. Since I was not fortunate enough (or rich enough) to be at the TED conference I didn’t see the demo myself, although it seems the mag is fairly similar to that of New York Times.

Readers can scroll horizontally through the magazine, when they see an article they like they scroll vertically. The iPad also changes from landscape to portrait depending on which way the unit is held.

It also contain some interactivity. The demo showed Adobe’s Clark touching a 360 degree animation of a new Camaro, showing how advertisers could utalise the new technology. Except it’s not new. 360’s have been around for years on web sites and I’ve been doing them for 2 years inside interactive magazines. It’s nothing new or groundbreaking, it’s simply taken Condé Nast to push it one step further by making it compatible with iPad Applications.

By his own admission Anderson acknowledges the iPad magazine is only “part of the answer”. He’s right of course, but the fact that they have already started down this road and have announced a rough launch date means that “part of the answer” puts them ahead of the pack. No news on if this roll out on the UK edition or if it’s just the US version.

It’s going to be very interesting to see how existing eMag publishers tackle the iPad. What will Dennis Publishing do? They currently publish the three most successful consumer eMags around, how will they embrace the iPad? Will they even try? Will Redwood Publishing conquer the iPad market for contract titles. WIll IPC Media come out of nowhere or will Future tackle their decreasing profits with electoic editions? Who knows, and who for the next five minutes, who cares? I’ve got a coffee waiting…

Adobe CS5, Ceros, eDition and MagDesigner upgrades

February 8, 2010

In a world that has a distinct absence of flying cars, hover-boards and replicators it’s reassuring to know somethings are being improved. In the last week I have seen and heard about a few changes coming soon that will make things a little more exciting for us eMag makers.

Ceros Media have given me a sneak peak at their modified “self serve” system which is looking really good. Can’t give any specific details away (they’d string me up by the balls) but it’s a massive improvement and makes for a really user friendly publishing tool that will make 2 of my jobs a load easier and more efficient.

eDition have told me what they have in store for the upcoming Publishing Expo and to say I’m excited about it would be an understatement of epic proportions. Very fucking cool indeed.

Adobe have been working very hard on Creative Suite 5 with InDesign and Flash looking sexier than Jessica Alba dipped in a chocolate rice crispy mix (that may just be a personal thing.) The interactive elements offered from InDesign have been expanded massively and work in conjunction with Flash a lot better than before. It also helps put more power into the hands of magazine designers rather than Flash programmers, something very important for the continued success of eMags.

And finally MagDesigner itself is undergoing a top secret, if I told you I’d have to kill you type re-design. Hopefully to be launched in the spring it will be expanded massively with a lot more articles, video, features and reviews of all the big eMag publishers.

So the next few months are going to see some nice upgrades. And maybe, just maybe someone will make a break through in flying car technology.

Can Apple’s iPad save the publishing industry?

January 27, 2010

So it’s here. The Apple iPad has been unveiled and it is… well… a big iPhone really. But without the phone.

To sum it up in nice little bullet points:

16, 32 and 64GB versions
3G connectivity at an extra cost, but unrestricted.
9.7 inch LED screen
Built in speaker plus headphone socket
0.5 inches thick
1Ghz A4 processor
10 hour battery life
PDF viewer
Weigh 1.5 pounds

16 GB 32 GB 64 GB
Wi-Fi $499 $599 $699
Wi-Fi + 3G $629 $729 $829

The WiFi only models will go on sale in 60 days, the 3G models around 90 days. Possible UK release date of June / July.

Now the important stuff for publishers:

No Flash support
Apple launch iBook Store for book publishers only using the ePub standard format
A new version of the iPhone software development allows development of iPad apps (available now)

…which basically means if you want to publish a magazine on the iPad it needs to be done through the production and distribution of an Application available through the Apple App Store only. HTML 5 compatibility is unclear at this point.

Unfortunately because Apple don’t stream the keynote anymore you have to rely on other people accounts… Steve Jobs did demo an example of New York Times which, as far as I can tell works as an App but includes embedded video and is as interactive as your gonna get. As soon as the Keynote video goes up, we’ll know for sure.

The New York Times newspaper App for Apple’s iPad

So where does this leave Sports illustrated, Adobe Air and Next Issue Media’s standardised eMag format? Well, Adobe Air Apps won’t work on the iPad. It will work on the HP, Archos and Dell tablets. So do Next Issue Media ignore the iPad and concentrate on Adobe Air style eMags for PC based tablets. Do they change course and concentrate on iPad Apps only and ignore PC’s? Simply they now have to do both.

Apple haven’t really bought calm to the confusion of modern publishing. We were hoping for some swanky new standard, cross platform eMag wonder. What we got is the realisation that it won’t be that easy, at least not for a while yet. Instead we need to go back to last years motto “content is King”. What publishers need to do now is find a way of distributing content across multiple platforms; print, web, Flash based eMag, Adobe Air eMag, Podcasts, iPhone App and now iPad App, maybe even ePub books.

New York Times best sellers list on the iBook Store

And Adobe? Flash has been snubbed once again, whether it’s because it drains processor speed or because it makes an App store redundant remains uncertain. What it does mean though is that Flash will still be integral for other mediums such as tablet PCs. But also that Adobe need to cater for Apple Apps and CS5 Flash does exactly that. You can basically export directly to iPhone App and to Air and to SWF within seconds. Flash will still be an indispensable tool for publishers.

So over the next few days we’ll gauge reaction of industry folk, consumers and publishers. We’ll see the tablet in action once Apple release the keynote speech for viewing and hopefully we’ll get UK release details soon.


January 5, 2010

This was released late last year, but Christmas has been a time of non stop eating thus a write up has been delayed…

So, hot on the heels of Time Inc. Bonnier Publishing and London based Design company BERG have released their concept magazine Mag+.

The video does most of the talking so get stuck in…

I love the way the cover stays on screen when the unit is idle, giving it that real “coffee table” effect. Nice touch for a concept, I doubt any real life product in the next year or two will cater for a such a cool feature though.

The search function works really well with nice image and text results. A tad complicated looking but nice and visual.

Not keen on the way content consumption is graphically represented. It’s a nice idea and one I’ve played around with on web based eMags, I just don’t like the look of it in their context, those horizontal kines atop each page are too distracting.

Since it’s not web based it must be a download which means it must be a fair size file, also presuming it will be some kind of Adobe Air app or similar.

There was no mention at all of video, why the hell not? I expect video dam it! In-mag video, interaction and in-mag games are unique and loads of fun, it’s what makes the is platform so exciting and new. Don’t forget we are no longer restricted to photos and text; music, movies, web cam interaction, net feeds…

I love touch interfaces but “rubbing” it? Seriously, you’ll like a right twat sat on the Tube rubbing a magazine, especially if it happens to be a sexy picture! I do however like the 4 finger gesture that reveals the thumbnails for bookmarking and such, very Apple.

The “radial menu” looks quite like the one Sports Illustrated used, which could signify a) someone has half inched an idea or b) both developers are on to something good.
It does seem like a natural way to bring up a suitable menu, after all we’ve all drawn a circle around a newspaper article at some point. So a prolonged finger touch or a circle (like Si) is an intuitive way to interact with a page.

The first thing that struck me about that video however was how much bollocks designers can talk. I am one myself afterall, so I know the score. My favourite “design bullshit words” from this video are:

“Chewy content”
“Metaphorical, graphical page turning metaphors”
“Honest to the form of the screen”
“Head-up overlay”
“Heat up the content”
“Act on any of the atoms”

Now the concept has been established the project falls on the shoulders of Kicker Studio in San Francisco. It’s there job to turn this concept into a reality, no doubt hanging on the developments of the Apple Tablet.

In a chat with The Guardian, Sara Öhrvall, the head of research and development at Bonnier said “We believe that there will be devices in the market as from 2010/2011”.

Generally I applaud this concept. I don’t think it’s as good or as polished as the Sports Illustrated one, but it’s another important step and it’s getting people talking. Once again however, it now depends on hardware manufacturers and how successful their products will be with consumers.
Further reading:
The Guardian

In the Air Tonight

December 3, 2009

(Ok, that’s possibly the worst headline ever I know… and Phil Collins has naff all to do with Adobe, but heh!)

So with Time Inc’s announcement that SI Tablet be be built using Air, we take a (very brief) look at what it actually is…

Air or Adobe Integrated Runtime is a cross-platform program meant for building rich internet applications using Adobe Flash, Flex, HTML or Ajax, resulting in an App that can be run off your desktop as opposed to online.

Over 100 million installations of Air have taken place since launch in February 2008 with over 500 applications now available on the Adobe Air marketplace.

Air allows existing Flash, actionscript, HTML or JavaScript to be used to build a more traditional like desktop program. Basically you can get access to internet and rich media content through a non-browser desktop app. A good recent example of this would be the interactive trailer for upcoming movie Avatar, found here.

Because Air is a desktop app, it uses local systems and storage and is thus more flexible and efficient than a more limited, browser integrated application.

Because it is a desktop application it can also be operated offline meaning some aspects of an Air application can be used off line.

NYTimes Reader 2.0 allows yo to download a newspaper and then read it offline with updates happening only when an internet connection is re-established.

Adobe Air applications can be built using Dreamweaver CS4, Adobe Flash Builder or Flash CS4. It’s also worth noting that the Beta for Air 2.0 is now out and offers support for multi gesture interfaces, meaning even more options are available than what has been shown by Time Inc. Oh, and lets not forget; it’s free to build Air apps. So what ya waiting for!

More information on Adobe Air can be found here.

Time Inc’s Tablet Magazine shows publishers which way is up

December 3, 2009

We all knew something was brewing, but quite frankly I didn’t think it would be as cool as this. Time Inc along with New York based The Wonder Factory have been working together developing “the Manhattan Project”. Little was known except it was being developed specifically for touchscreen tablet computers such as HP’s or the upcoming Apple Tablet/Slate/MacThingy.

Erick Schonfeld on Tech Crunch has got a first glimpse into their first digital solution magazine; Sports Illustrated. Full article can be found here it’s really worth a read.

It’s a real touch screen experience, and seems to bring the physicality of magazines back to life but in a digital form. It’s something that has always been lacking in current eMags. Tapping with two fingers reveals page thumbnails, swiping gestures will turn a page and there’s a navigation wheel that lets you share content with social network sites in a really neat way.

The concept was designed by David Link, co-founder and Creative Director of The Wonder Factory and built using Adobe Air. The Wonder Factory have today posted this video of the SI Tablet in glorious action:

So, a few points to ponder whilst you knock back that cafe latte and optional muffin. Adobe Air. Pretty obvious choice since there’s a fair chance the Mac Tablet won’t support Flash, it may also mean magazines can be downloaded, with only optional content being supported online and thus supporting off line reading.

I know first hand how supportive Adobe have been in regards to eMags. I’m an Adobe Advocate myself having bigged ’em up on video in support of InDesign. I also know how much effort they are putting into the future of publishing. They understand the need for these types of magazines even if most publishers do not.

From what I know and have used, Air is a stable and fluid programme and is perfect for these types of interactive experiences. What I would be very interested in seeing is the process behind the finished issue; their workflow, design methods and how exactly it’s all put together. I wonder how much it differs from my current practices on iGizmo and iMotor? If this is to work as well as they hope, it needs to set a standard in both quality of titles and working practice.

What kind of infrastructure would be needed to pull something like this off? Once you get past the developing costs and general learning curve, how does it all fit in? Ideally, I believe it would need a complete restructure of editorial. Web working alongside print and Tablet magazine divisions. Having XFL and RSS feeds coming out the shazzoo in order to keep content time sensitive and dynamically changeable.

It should bring about a whole new change in publishing, if companies are brave enough. And it looks like Time Inc may just be.

Another big problem could be wi-fi, not so much for the US but the rest of the us. For these magazines to be suuuuuper popular we need more wi-fi.

A large number of people have wi-fi at home or at work. Starbucks have wi-fi of course, unfortunately you have to listen to the songs of Burt Bacharach being murdered by the Illinois String Quartet. A few other random hotels and bars have wi-fi but that’s about it really. Where are these free city-wide wi-fi networks people used to promise us back in the day?

If you’re going to offer support for video content, information feeds or up to date galleries you need widely available internet and with a good bandwidth capacity.

The other factor to their success is also the sale of Tablets. I personally believe there will be a trend in Tablet computers for at least a few years, maybe even longer as technology advances and computers get to the stage where by we can roll them up like paper. However it’s going to be a while before Tablets are wide spread. First we need Apple to release one, and for it to be well received. Then, as usual we need everyone else to copy them and produce versions a third of the price. Then they’ll be wide spread enough for mass markets to really appreciate what these magazines are capable of and the immersive experience you can have with a magazine.

Hopefully by this time someone would have eventually launched a “digital news stand”. And no, I don’t not include any current website to be even close to a digital news stand. Think iTunes for publishing, not Board Room book shelf.

The demo above looks fantastic. Absolutely hands down the coolest thing I have seen anyone attempt with an eMag. Good design, forward thinking and innovation have created an excellent looking product.

The big question is, can it make money. Because after all that’s what it’s all about for some people. We know eMags are viable financially, look at Dennis Publishing and Redwood Publishing to name but two. Both companies have had great success with eMags and Dennis’ iGizmo, iMotor and Monkey consumer titles have proved hugely popular with readers and advertisers alike. However, no one charges for eMags yet.
According to Mr Murdoch people will pay for content if it’s from good writers. I don’t think that is enough. I think people will pay if it’s good content done in a good way. A new way. Why go to one website and pay when you can go to one of a thousand others for free?

But I would pay if it was a unique package, something like what Time Inc have shown above. That looks worth paying for doesn’t it?! It’s waaay cooler than a website and it offers the same information, just better and more marketable and more personal.

Time Inc are such a massive company, and with backing from the likes of HP, Adobe and hopefully Apple, maybe they can lead the way into an exciting new era. Because at the moment they just ran past the rest of us, manically giggling.

In the meantime, go buy yourself a Sony Vaio L Series, check out the current issue of iGizmo and touch away to the cows come home. It works pretty well.