Thursday, October 14, 2010

SXSWorld Magazine as a Free App

SXSW World is the second magazine to use the Exact Editions iPhone/iPad app platform for free distribution. Dazed & Confused was the first.

SXSW World, as you have probably guessed, is the magazine from the organizers of the wildly successful music/film/technology/culture fest held each spring in San Antonio, Texas. With an iPad or an iPhone you can now read this quarterly magazine for free. In this blog we are going to use it to pin-point the basic controls that are to be found on all the Exact Editions apps, but if you have an iPad we strongly recommend that you go and pick the app up and play with it yourself. Try all the orientations, all five free issues, and all the functions on the app's toolbars. Any written or verbal explanation is a poor substitute for the experience of driving the app yourself. But, as second best, we provide some screenshots with explanation:

The Front Cover. Note each of the page numbers on the cover have a green spot, and a click on the highlighted number takes the reader straight to the referenced page. Note also the tool bars at the top and bottom of the window. These tool bars (which disappear after a few moments, but can be recalled by touching the screen) carry the main navigation controls. The Exact Editions apps are designed to give all available space to page images of the magazines and books carried, but the user will soon find out that all the software controls for the app are readily available in the unobtrusive tool bars. Starting at the bottom left:

This triple-decker sandwich icon, is in fact a table of contents icon, it takes the reader to the main table of contents in the magazine (or book), as here:

Again, we draw attention to the interactive links highlighted in green on the digital table of contents page (zip codes, email addresses, urls, as well as page numbers are highlighted). The iPhone, since it is a phone, will also present the phone numbers as highlighted for click-to-call. The grouping of three icons at the middle of the tool bar at the bottom of the window are for moving through pages.

Naturally the arrows are for moving right or left, and the left arrow is 'greyed out' in this snap because we are at the front cover of the magazine. Sorry there is no way that you can go left here! The open book, or concertina, icon in the middle is perhaps the most powerful of the navigational tools in the set we offer. It opens up a quick browse view of the magazine, which we call 'PageFlow', which is in some ways similar to the iTunes 'Coverflow', but rather more 'page-y', since it shows pages in recto and verso views as you move through the publication (naturally, by sliding your finger over the stream of pages).

PageFlow is so blisteringly fast on the iPad that this soon becomes a very valuable way of controlling and navigating the magazine as a virtual object. The slider bar with its bead (to be picked up and slid along the bar) is streaming through the same underlying PageFlow, but even more quickly, and this is especially useful for really large volumes.

The thumbnails used for PageFlow are small, but with an illustrated magazine they contain sufficient information to be highly useful, especially for finding again pages that you may already have browsed.When you have slid to the right part of the magazine, two pages will be open in the 'valley' of the page images. You tap the left hand page, to go to the left hand of the opening, tapping on the right hand page takes you to the other one. If your sliding navigation has 'overshot' the mark you can touch any of the other visible pages in the sequence to go direct to that page. Seven pages on each side of the opening are immediately available. As it happens we want this page:

This image can be expanded (spreading fingers) to a higher resolution:

I am not sure that we need to see Matthew Vaughn in higher resolution than that!

The last icon on the bottom tool bar is to alternate between double page and single page views.

Which takes you to the double page spread:

We have only covered the controls that are available from the bottom tool-bar. Next time we shall cover the set of controls that come at the top of the page.

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