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What would I like to see in an iPad magazine


Siddharth Sethi

January 31, 2011

There are dozens of them out there. From the big guys to the newbies to the just-for-iPad ones. What has caught me by surprise is that no one has really caught the fancy of the reading masses.

A magazine on an iPad can’t really be just a magazine on an iPad. Just flipping over static content on a digital device with a nice page flip animation does not cut it for me. An iPad magazine has to be more live, more interactive and much more media centric. To me, it can’t be a magazine app. It has to be a media app.

Let us look at some of the “features” that I find really ridiculous in some iPad magazines.

  • Buy each issue separately – why no subscription?
  • Download an entire issue sometimes running into 100s of MBs
  • Static content – seriously, in this day and age, is that what I am looking for? Open an app and get the same content?
  • Lack of media – many magazines are just magazines. Where did the promise of interactivity in iPads go?
  • No integration with my favorite sharing sites – twitter, facebook etc.

And the list can go on. But these are just some of the things that cause irritation.

Here is what I would like to see in an iPad magazine apart from the solutions of the above problems. I am not even sure if I would like to call it a magazine.

Huge amount of interactivity

I like to interact. Please make it easy for me to interact with the rest of the world. I would like to tweet from within the app. I would like to share things on facebook from within the app. I know there will be challenges to showing content that are for subscribers only, but find a way out. Let me share at least a teaser.

I would also love it when I do not have really “click” anything. I want to just use the many other gestures that are available on the iPad.

Stream topics

Allow me to go back in time. Allow me to get to more articles from the same author or on the same topic. Link back. I would like to get a holistic view from an author or on a topic and then form my own opinion.

No breaking news

I do not want breaking news from my magazine. But I do want breaking thoughts. Magazines by nature are supposed to provide an overarching thought on a news item, not the just the news item itself.

Mix and match digital content types

Many do this, but others can do it and do it better. Mix and match videos, thought streams, pictures in a more seamless way. I could always do with a video of an interview than just excerpts of the interview. Provide the audio, provide me more than just the printed, excerpted interview. This is a classical case of being in a time warp. Paper magazines just can’t provide the video. They were limited by the media of distribution. But iPad magazines carry no such limitation. They should know that a video interview is much better than a printed interview.

Crowd source popularity

Make it easier for me to find relevant articles. Just providing thumbnails of pages won’t help me much. Create a tag cloud for me. Let me know who is reading what. And then let me decide what to read and in what order. Magazines really need to break the mould here. Sequential reading of articles is not necessary. I don’t like it.


I love them. But then sometimes I hate them. Allow me to switch them off and then charge me for that. At least allow me to control my reading experience. Sometimes I can pay for not allowing the ads to distract my reading.

iPad apps can do a lot more to make the experience immersive. Use of new ways to distribute and analyze thought can make these magazines a lot more worthwhile.

If you are a magazine publisher, talk to us. We will set you in the right direction.

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