Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Syncing Multiple Issues and Bonus Media in Apps

Last week Exact Editions introduced an upgrade to the iOS app platform. The new release (4.1.0) sees two important improvements.

First, publishers can now incorporate 'Bonus Media' in an app on the iPad -- and for the moment, this deeper level of interactivity will only be available through the iPad. The solution we have built enables a magazine to offer its iPad readers, short video clips, sound and additional photo images (eg from a sporting event or a fashion shoot) in a consistent and easily navigated way. The additional content is included in the app, cued with icons in page flow, accessed via the menu at the top of the screen (next to the '?'/Information icon) and once accessed in a wifi zone may be synced to the user's device so that the media can be enjoyed even when not on-line. The first magazine to benefit from these enhancements was SXSWorld, and there are now open examples of this multi-media content available for any user of this free app; simply download the free app and turn to Issue 4 in Volume 4. Here are a few screenshots:

Bonus Media are signposted in the menu bar

The user can flip through a sequence of additional photographs, not included in the printed magazine.

The second significant upgrade in the Exact Editions platform is that syncing of multiple issues is now supported. As many as you like -- or as many as the memory on your iPad permits. Previously, the rule was that the most recent issue in a subscription would be synced to the iPad/iPhone, readers who wanted to access back issues were completely dependent on access via an internet connection. Now a user can sync back issues (or unsync them) by checking/unchecking the the list of back numbers for each title

Syncing multiple issues through the check boxes on the issue list

If we were asked to summarise the Exact Editions view of magazine apps, I guess one could say that our view is that the whole magazine in its digital form should be an app. The whole magazine should be an app and the relevant archive for the magazine should be accessible and readable (of course 'searchable') from within the app. The whole magazine should be there in the application, but when it is there, it is of course fine to add extra interactivity and linkage. And 'extra', or 'bonus' media. Why not? Some magazine publishers on the other hand seem to have taken the view that a magazine app should be constructed and distributed on an issue by issue basis. Although this may sound like a simpler approach and an easier target, we think that starting with the whole magazine in its entirety as a digital resource is easier for both readers and publishers.