New York magazine's new iPad app looks to define the future of print + digital publishingTimed with the magazine's 45th anniversary, New York is set to launch a newly redesigned iPad app that takes full advantage of Apple's iOS platform, and could serve as the new standard bearer for print magazines on tablets.
AppleInsider was given an early hands-on look at the revamped New York magazine for iPad this week at the publication's New York City headquarters. While New York has had an iPad edition available to subscribers for years, NYmag.com General Manager Michael Silberman admitted the previous software hadn't used Apple's tablet to its full potential.
That's why in 2012, they partnered with developer The Wonderfactory to build a new iOS Newsstand application based on Bonnier's Mag+ digital publishing platform. The result is New York's completely revamped software, which is scheduled to hit the App Store April 1, with a few twists that make it a standout experience for the iPad.
The defining feature of New York's new app is the "window shade," which allows users to quickly jump between the magazine and the latest news.
Upon launching the new application, readers will see a unique user interface designed to give iPad users easy access to both the latest news, as well as a version of the latest issue of New York, tweaked specifically to take advantage of the iPad's form factor and display.
This split design is accomplished by a movable bar a UI element referred to internally as the "window shade" that divides the page into an upper half, featuring the latest news curated from NYmag.com, and a lower half, which offers access to the weekly magazine issue. Users simply drag the bar up or down to choose which material they wish to read, and the bar can be quickly pulled to the other side of the screen to switch.
A closer look at the "window shade" feature that divides the latest news from the newest issue of New York magazine.
The idea, Silberman explained while demonstrating the application, is to keep readers engaged with New York's content on a daily basis. While the print magazine and its digital counterpart are published weekly, users can also use the same app to stay up to date with the latest exclusive Web content that supplements the print edition.
That's not to say the "Latest News" portion of the app is simply an embedded version of NYmag.com. Select stories from the magazine's website, as well as excerpts from the full magazine, are curated and presented with a new look designed just for the app, and five days' worth of stories are also downloaded for offline reading.
"We want users to come to the app many times throughout the day for our unique take on news, politics, entertainment, fashion and food," Silberman said. "The most successful apps serve users on their own schedule, not tied to a weekly or monthly magazine publishing cycle. The app is especially tailored to meet the content consumption needs, habits and expectations of today's tablet audience."
The ad-supported content will be available to anyone who downloads the free app from Apple's iOS Newsstand. The hope of Silberman and others is that the quality of the free content will encourage readers to slide the app's window shade up to access the bottom half of the app and subscribe to the weekly edition.
Those who do subscribe will find that the digital reproduction of the weekly publication has also been redesigned for the iPad. Unlike some other magazines, which essentially present themselves as page-by-page PDF file scans, each issue of New York will be tweaked and redesigned for an ideal tablet reading experience.
"The most successful apps serve users on their own schedule, not tied to a weekly or monthly magazine publishing cycle." - NYmag.com General Manager Michael Silberman
In demonstrating a recent issue to AppleInsider, Silberman showed how everything from the magazine's cover to articles and regular features within were changed in varying ways from print to iPad. Flipping to the left and right brings up individual articles within the magazine, and from there users can scroll down to dive deeper into the page.
Content can also be modified to work even better on the iPad than in print, if need be. Silberman said New York plans to have the iPad version of all of its restaurant reviews include controllable 360-degree photographs that will give readers a feel for the location. Some stories will also have embedded video, and that content will not be available on the magazine's website, remaining exclusive to the iPad.
The magazine also recently consolidated its weekly "To Do" section, an acknowledgement of the fact that most users simply go to the Web if they want to find an exhaustive list of upcoming events. But in the iPad app, the weekly "To Do" list is accompanied by a special search box that lets readers find more options right within the digital magazine.
In another example of changes from print to iPad, an article in one issue about former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney was merely a small sidebar in the print edition. But the ability to enhance the content on the iPad with larger graphics and interactivity led to a full-page item in the digital copy.
Other features include a quick "scrub" option at the bottom of the screen that shows thumbnails of pages throughout the issue, while a top menu features a quick table of contents. The digital edition demonstrated to AppleInsider on a third-generation iPad with Retina display was more responsive than many other laggy magazines and newspapers currently available on Newsstand.
New York also worked with their development team to reduce the size of individual magazine issues. These can still be a relatively hefty download at 300-plus-megabytes, but that can be less than half the size of issues provided by some other magazine apps.
When the updated New York magazine application launches in Newsstand April 1, it will come with the April 8 annual edition marking the publication's 45-year anniversary since its first issue dated April 8, 1968. Recurring monthly subscriptions through Apple's Newsstand will cost $1.99 per month, or $19.99 per year, while a print and digital option will also be available to readers for an additional $10.