I’ve had an iPhone for nearly a year now and I’m officially lost without it. I’ve recently downloaded the MLB.com At Bat 2009 application, which streams real time game updates and audio from every major league game. With a potentially talented playoff team in town this year this application will obviously get a lot of use.
Games, Twitterriffic, OpenTable, and iHeartRadio are all on my iPhone too. Some applications stay on my phone longer than others. Not every application is created equal; Turkey Hunt was pretty awful. So last week while I was writing about digital delivery I started to research magazine delivery options for the iPhone. Sure enough several media firms and digital delivery providers have started to take advantage of the printed word on the iPhone.
DRAMA Magazine, which was an absolute worthless read, was the first publication I found. Since DRAMA was released as an iPhone only publication I thought I better take a look. Immediately I discovered I was not the target market. Pitched as a lifestyle magazine, it is filled with ‘artsy’ fashion and theater photos. Photography is clearly the main content driver. The photos are reasonably well sized on the small iPhone screen, however the short snippets of text require the user to zoom in far too much to be legible. In fact I would grade the delivery of text a resounding F and the photo loading speed a C+. For $3.99 I’d recommend saving your money, the DRAMA Magazine website can certainly give you enough of a sample to see this application in action.
Amazon’s Kindle for iPhone application currently doesn’t support magazines, however I was able to download a few sample chapters of current best selling books. Compared to DRAMA Magazine, text on Kindle app for the iPhone is fantastic. However it is still a little too small…or too large. I made it through the first chapter of Dan Ariely’s Predictably Irrational. Which is a book I’m interested in reading. I struggled with finding the right size text on my screen. Either the text was too small so my phone was 6-9 inches from my face, or too large so lines had about 5 words each. The other major down side of this application is the limitation of content discovery. Users must find and purchase materials on Amazon’s website and send it to the iPhone wirelessly. The process works, but it would be much more enjoyable to find/purchase/read magazines and books all within the same application. If you spend enough time away from your desk I would definitely recommend at least trying this free application out.
Texterity for iPhone, offers a web browser delivery system. Utilizing the full browser capability of the iPhone, Texterity is simply a resized version of the online flash paper reader. I found the user interface of Texterity for the iPhone more appealing than the full online reader for the Mac/PC. Flipping pages using a touch screen is simply pleasing when compared to finding the next page button with a mouse. But here again the screen size limits both text and image viewing. Zinio also offers a similar web browser version for the iPhone, of equal value and limitation.
What I would like in an iPhone magazine:
- iPhone application with subscription based delivery. Send me an update message when the latest issue is available. Allow me to re-read older issues. Charge me once for a 1-year subscription.
- Build in the strengths of the platform. Great iPhone applications are all interactive. Some applications actually offer real world solutions like booking a table at a restaurant or checking the score of the game. Either way this real world relevancy keeps me coming back. Magazines could be interactive and the results could be directly measured.
- Special content please. Don’t regurgitate a printed or online magazine via the iPhone. Provide new and exclusive content, both your readers and advertising clients will love you for it. Readers aren’t going to pour over novel length text on the iPhone, its just not built for that. And the iPhone doesn’t reach everyone, so here is an opportunity to build something just for the iPhone demographic.
- Finally be size aware with your content. So far all the content delivered on the iPhone wasn’t really sized appropriately. Miss on the first try and your application will be lost in oblivion.