Macworld: The Future of iPad Magazines?

Macworld is one of, if not the, most popular Apple-based print magazine. For a long time, they’ve had a website that publishes regular content and, naturally, this has been accessible via Safari on your iPad.

However, a few months back the publication launched a native iPad app to distribute content. This was not at all what I expected. I anticipated its function to be similar to the likes of The Daily, or T3, but I was pleasantly surprised. Macworld Reader curates website and iPad-only content in an immersive and well designed application.

Macworld has built up an amazing browsing experience, its iPad optimisation making it one of the best ways to consume content. Could this be the future of iPad magazines?

Functionality

The main aim of this article is to discuss the design standard set by this app, but it’s important to cover its functionality first.

Macworld publishes two main content sources to their iPad app: hand-picked articles from their editors, and iPad-exclusive content. Articles are shown in a magazine-style layout, as well as being accessible through a featured article slider at the top.

There’s an additional scroller at the side listing recent app, hardware, and software reviews.

Once you’ve selected an article you get an elegant, columned, view that’s very smooth to navigate. Tapping on any image in the article will launch it full screen and allow you to swipe through all the images for said content. You can also choose to play these images as a slideshow, or share one via a number of social networks or email.

Macworld organizes featured content into a magazine-style layout.

Atop the paper-based design, you can save an article to be later accessed with a left swipe on the homescreen. You can also recommend, or even dislike, an article with the thumbs up rating. Just like images, you can share articles via Facebook, Twitter, or in an email.

There’s also a “live view” that aggregate’s various editor’s twitter feeds to catch up on what the editor’s are writing in 140 characters or less.

Macworld Reader is not some rebranded RSS reader, but rather a custom experience designed for the iPad – it’s a bespoke portal into a wealth of Macworld content!

Design

Now we come to the part I’m looking forward to. As we just discussed, Macworld is a custom experience designed for the large screen real estate that the iPad offers, I’ll take a look here at what makes Macworld Reader just ‘work’.

Straight away, the paper-based design works very well and represents Macworld’s history as a print magazine.

Next, the top slider features specials that Macworld is currently running. It’s perfectly positioned to grab the reader’s attention and introduce them to more articles. Clicking on one of these features takes the user to a custom page that introduces the series and shows the list of connected articles, which, in turn, leads into the full article view.

The homescreen is displayed like the magazine it accompanies. This view, that is based on a columns layout, is a great way to quickly browse through Macworld’s feeds. The whole display is perfectly designed for use on the iPad and split into several sections: Mac, iOS, iPod etc.

Individual articles are also displayed superbly, while the customization (in the form of text size changing) is a user-sensitive option. Just like iBooks, the fluidity of the app is smooth and streamlined – a very stable implementation of some great ideas.

Macworld Reader handles linked and serial articles in a beautifully streamlined way.

Setting the Standard

At the time of writing this article, Rupert Murdoch’s The Daily has not yet been shown off. It’s certainly going to be interesting to see how they handle the design. Macworld really bring through their print-based history in this design, while the new features are demonstrated in a very user-friendly way.

The up-to-date, realtime design of Macworld makes it seem very live and interactive. The device was touted as a saviour of print, and it’s advantages over paper-based alternatives are made clear in this app. It keeps content live and breaking rather than being out of date a few minutes after it goes to print.

Macworld has a unique opportunity to monetize this app, as their implementation is so superb. I’d be willing to pay for it. Linking subscriptions in with iTunes is a unique and potentially thriving ecosystem for purchases – a positive and encouraging thing for print publications threatened by dwindling advertising support.

Macworld is a stunning example of design on the iPad.

To Conclude

Macworld’s app is beautiful, and something I’m now going to be using for my weekend reading. It’s an app that I’m sure will set the standard for the future of magazines on the iPad, and could play a major part in redefining the future of the publishing industry.

Macworld Reader is available free on the App Store. Feel free to share your views both on the app, and the future of periodicals on iPad in the comments!


Summary

A stunning app for accessing curated Macworld content on your iPad that hints at the future of periodicals on iOS.

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