So what’s the deal?
The Huffington Post launches a weekly newsmagazine for iPad, Huffington, that repurposes content from the site — mixed in with some new pieces – and presents in a magazine-like format and frequency. Each issue is $1, and you can buy a monthly subscription for $2, and an annual one for $20.
Who made it?
The design direction for the app comes courtesy of Josh Klenert — creative director at AOL Mobile — whose previous tablet work includes last year’s SPD 45 app.
Why would I want to get this?
It offers a weekly round-up of news stories found on The Huffington Post, wrapped in a beautifully designed layout that is very print-like — more even than we what we tend to see with magazine apps that are adapted from a print source.
What am I going to find inside?
More than just a collection of posts taken from the website put in a pretty package, there’s original content being produced for this as well, and the heart of the magazine is the inclusion of three longform pieces in each issue — although I’m not very clear on whether these are always produced just for the magazine, or if they appear on the site as well. In terms of general content, it follows what you see in other newsweeklies — shorter newsbits and essays at the front, features in the well, and then media coverage in the back.
One of my favorite things — and I really can’t understand why more magazines don’t do this — is that the “photos of the week” section lets you browse through the photos with the caption visible. Why is such a simple thing never done in other magazines like TIME and Newsweek? I find it annoying to have to go through photos, and then have to touch an icon somewhere on the page to read the accompanying caption. I realize that some readers might want to see the photo without a caption, but wouldn’t it be better to have them make the caption disappear?
So how do you read this thing, anyway?
It reads like most iPad magazines, although there is a deliberate attempt to minimize the kind of interaction we tend to see a lot — like scrolling boxes within pages and touching an icon to change text. Most pages are static, and articles are read as “page scrolls.” Every issue so far includes one interactive-heavy article, in the form of a weekly infographic presentation — to be honest, I’ve found most of them to be overly complex.
As you would expect from a publication that is adapted from a very active and popular website, one of the strengths of the magazine is being able to comment directly on articles within the app.
What were they thinking?
I think the most annoying thing for most is that it is, for some reason, only available on the US and Canada iTunes Stores. I really don’t understand why they would this — I get that SPIN is probably limited by music licensing, but I can’t see what would stop Huffington from making the magazine available worldwide, just like the website is.
I also don’t like how the “Quoted” section — a staple in newsweeklies — mixes in quotes from world figures with reader comments. I really don’t care what a reader has to say about a topic — I don’t read comments on blogs, and I don’t read letter pages in magazines — and so it forces me to first look at the quote’s credit to see if it’s news-y, or if it’s just a reader comment.
Bottom line, should I buy this?
If you have access to the US or Canada stores, then yes. I am not a fan of The Huffington Post — I really can’t stand the design of the site — and so this was really one of my first times digging into content from the site. I also prefer to digest my news in a weekly fashion, I am still a fan of newsweeklies — I read TIME, Newsweek, and Bloomberg Businessweek — and this is right up my alley. I also appreciate the pared down interaction — everything doesn’t have to be flash-whiz-bang — and the graphic layouts have been really nice so far.