iPad eMagazines: HTML5 Takes Us Another Step Forward…

Esquire: Using HTML5 instead of JPEG and Flash. Beautiful layout and typography. Pity the content’s so targeted to rich, self-indulgent males…

Three posts ago, I showed a collection of different magazines and newspapers in their newest iPad versions – which I pointed out were beautiful castles built on sand, in that they all used JPEG representations to create their onscreen pages.

The version of Wired magazine I showed was a whopping 590+ Mbyte download. Even with the daily-increasing availability of storage, it’s hard to see how anyone could keep their iPad storage from becoming cluttered after a few months.

However, one of my typography friends on Facebook posted a fascinating link to a company called Scrollmotion, which is creating thousands of applications for the iPad, many of them highly quality magazines.

One of the magazines now available in the iPad App Store is Esquire. I have to say, as far as content is concerned, it’s really not my cup of tea. However, it is beautifully typeset and laid out, with very high quality photographs, graphics and advertising, and it’s a great demonstration of what you can do.

It was created with HTML 5 ā€“ not JPEG and Flash pages – and is about a sixth of the size of the issue of Wired magazine which I reviewed in my earlier post.

It’s highly readable. It looks beautiful. There are some problems: it still doesn’t scale, for instance. But the fact that it’s created using HTML means that setting and layout can become more flexible and adaptable in future. With the JPEG pages used in wired magazine, there was absolutely no way forward; the pages might just as well been cast in stone.

I’d be interested to know from anyone technically-inclined out there whether these apps are using common system resources to do their text composition and layout g. I certainly hope so. It would be insane if each magazine or newspaper had to do its own.

This issue of Esquire magazine has an interesting opening gimmick, using out-of-focus video which sharpens and then freezes to become the front cover. I presume ā€“ since Flash is outlawed on the iPad – that this also uses HTML5. It works very well.

This is a big step forward. Be interesting to see where it leads. It still seems weird to me that each magazine and newspaper is its own iPad app, unlike eBook, for instance, in which there’s a “Library” with titles. I’ve no doubt someone will figure out the “personal magazine rack”.

Publishers, though, are still giving themselves an easy life by focusing on the iPad alone. We’ll have to see how they cope – or whether they even try – when Android-powered tablets begin to appear, and also the new Windows 7 tablets.

A lot will depend on whether enough of them are sold to create a competitive platform to the iPad.

I have to say that the more I use my own iPad, the more I think Apple has got it right, and the Windows-powered tablets are not really competing in the same space at all.

I use my Pad now much more than I use my laptop; for reading books, magazines, the New York Times, checking Facebook and my Windows Live Mail. If I want to type a document, or create video, then I go to the laptop. But when consuming, the iPad wins every time. I sit in a recliner and read, comfortably.

I have two devices, where I used to ask one device to do two jobs – and of course ended up with an unsatisfactory compromise. I didn’t know that until I began using the iPad intensively. It’s definitely my first “goto” device, and the laptop’s a fallback. The iPad’s “touchy-feely”, but in an imprecise way. I don’t want to do detail with my fingers – just find what I want and turn the pages.

There are some great apps out there. One of my favorites is the PBS app – great nature and history videos to watch in bed, using headphones if you don’t want to wake your partner. I’m getting quite addicted to the New York Times. I guess that’s what they’re counting on by making it free just now, with plans to convert to paid-for subscription next year. The TED app’s another favorite.

A Windows TabletPC is still both devices in one. Apple has taught me that’s not what I want. I was extremely skeptical that Apple could really demonstrate a new product niche in between the mobile phone and the laptop. But that’s exactly what they appear to have done. You’d have to prise it from my dead fingers if you wanted to take it away now.


4 thoughts on “iPad eMagazines: HTML5 Takes Us Another Step Forward…

  1. Anonymous

    hope the arstechnica link helped.Anyway, Media companies don't want to pay Apple for its services so they haveno choice but create app for each magazine. I gather you already know about Zinio.There is also Instapaper.


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