Babylon: iPad-only magazine suffers from technical issues
As time goes by more and more magazines will be released for the iPad first — print maybe later, if at all. The first thing these new tablet-only magazines will want to be sure of is that they are technically correct. That is, that their programming allows for a good user experience, like a printer that gets the color separations correct.
Babylon IT, released today in two versions, is an Italian tablet magazine that utilizes an adaption of the HTML5 ebook solution from Baker. The result is a product that reads very much like an ebook, with swiping used to go from story to story, scrolling to read within the story, and with embedded elements such as video. But, unfortunately, the navigation is very, very clunky.
Attempts to scroll sometimes makes the app move to the next story, sometimes it does scroll, but haltingly. It helps if you wait each time the page loads, then extremely carefully swipe in a straight direction. Any variation from this routine leads to mixed results.
As for the actual content . . . well, my Italian is not so good, so who knows. But the iPad makes the photos pop, and I certainly love the concept.
The app is free, as is the content, thanks to a single-sponsor (Campari). As mentioned above, the app comes in two flavors: a full content version which weighs in at 390 MB, and a “light” version which contains the shell but draws in the content from the web. These links are to the Italian App Store. For the full version in the US App Store go here, for the “light” version go here. You might want to try the “light” version to see if it performs any better than the full version — though I don’t know why it would.
(I should also mention that the link to the publisher’s website brings up a site still under construction with the message to return on November 24, 2010. What’s with that?)
Over time we will continue to see more of these tablet-only magazine released. One hopes that the vendors who provide these services to publishers can improve their programming to the point where publishing to the iPad becomes as easy, and inexpensive, as creating your own blog.