MagDesigner has a new home!

July 4, 2010

New home for

If you’re reading this, then you shouldn’t be. You see, this here blog is now old hat. It has been magically turned into

It’s bigger, better and a lot more blue. There are all the usual news stories and eMag round ups, but now the with the edition of platform reviews, eMag reviews, glossary and features with lots more content coming over the months.

It really is your one stop shop for all things to do with digital magazines.

This WordPress blog will more than likely be ignored from now on (you’ve been good to me though…)

So, get yer ass over there, bookmark it, subscribe, get rss feeds and remember to tell your friends about!

Click HERE!


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.

Magazines on the iPad. Now.

February 2, 2010

So you wanna be first to get a magazine on the iPad? Well you can’t because it’s already been done. Not only will many magazines and papers (like the New York Times) be launching iPad specific Apps but existent iPhone Apps now pose a serious threat to those that have not embraced the iPhone’s huge success.

Pixel Mags are a London, New York and LA based electronic publishing company that specialise in turning print ready PDFs into iPhone Apps. They currently publish Mac User, Dirt, iCreate, Total911 and Impora amongst others. As we know the iPad can run existing iPhone Apps at double the size making PDF based digital editions much more readable, desirable and most importantly; available.

Pixel Mags also offer a lot of in-App features like search functionality, interactive content, in-App purchasing and good old page turning effects. It’s still a little way off the likes of Sports International’s glitzy demo, but what Pixel Mags are doing is bridging an important gap and making the transition for publishers as minimal as possible.

Until publishers acknowledge they need to bring stuff like this in house, Pixel Mags are a damn safe bet with a really good product that should hopefully work great on an iPad. They also have a sweeeet website, so click on the pic above and go give them the time of day…

Pixel Mags aren’t the only dudes making iPhone Apps though, Zinio have also released their own App:

Zinio have a whole host of titles already available on the iPhone, which means they are will be available for the iPad upon it’s release day. It’s unclear how either of these companies plan to adapt to the new iPad and what they have planned for future Apps. But in the meantime they are both the most viable way of getting a half decent, interactive magazine onto either of Apple’s glorious devices.

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

Smart money on Apple…

January 5, 2010

eTextbook publishers, CourseSmart have released a little video aimed at promoting a possible platform for Apple Tablet documents.

The video will be shown at this weeks Consumer Electronics Show held in Las Vega, and will no doubt be all over desperate newspaper websites before the weeks end.

Everyone’s favorite easy read, The Wall Street Journal reports “You can do more than just read the textbook. You can interact with the content”. Wow. Coursesmart Executive Vice President Frank Lyman with his finger firmly on the pulse. A pulse from a slowly decaying corpse that is.

Still, as usual I try to look upon this as a good thing, especially since Lyman is one of the only people out there considering the Tablet’s potential with regard to education “It is all about having your textbooks integrated with other tools and resources that you use for learning.”
Unfortunately I find it impossible to see how anyone other than non-profit companies can get involved with education, any kind of profitability compromises the moral integrity of what needs to be done. But thats just me. I’m a dreamer (but not the only one).

What is interesting is the fact that yet another company has set their sites on Apple’s forthcoming Tablet. It’s not a great example of what can be done, especially when put alongside the Sports Illustrated demo, but it does show a bit of thought. It’s just a shame people seem to still be focussing in on re-hashing existing content onto a new device instead of trying to create an exciting new product altogether, and that’s what we really need.

iTunes for Magazines given a name…

January 5, 2010

Last years announcement that Hearst, Condé Nast, Time Inc, News Corporation and Meredith would join forces to create a new publishing standard has finally been given a name. The “iTunes of the magazine world” that they are hoping to create will be called Next Issue Media.

Not the most catchy or adventurous of names but the domain has been purchased and has a brief run down of what they hope to achieve plus contact details. Good luck to them, a great step forward in publishing. 2010 could really see this venture grow from strength to strength.

Next Issue Media