July 1, 2013 Last Updated 1:06 pm

Subaru of America launches its own branded magazine into the Apple Newsstand

DriveMag-app-icon-smWhen asked to point out great examples of the new tablet magazine platform one can point to some of the major magazine titles such as The New Yorker, Popular Science or others. One can also point out the new, innovative digital-only launches such as TRVL, Red Bulletin or Future’s Photography Week. But, in general, one can also point out the branded magazines being produced by the auto companies.

These digital magazine launches usually enjoy large budgets, aren’t handcuffed by having to turn a publishing profit, and are often designed and developed by marketing agencies. With an unlimited budget, and only brand recognition as a goal, these new digital launches can experiment with animation, lots of video, etc. These new titles also tend to use the Adobe DPS and often come with rather hefty file downloads.

In fact, if there is one criticism of native tablet magazine design that is legitimate, it involves large files sizes. Some digital publishing platforms have rightly targeted this issue in an effort to not fall prey to overly large files that prevent some readers from ever completing their issue downloads. File size bloat is one of two recurring complaints most readers have of native tablet mags – the other involves being forced to pay for digital when already a print subscriber.

Last week Subaru of America launched their own digital magazine into the Apple Newsstand (there is currently no equivalent in Google Play). Subaru Drive Magazine appears to have been created in-house, and like many other automaker customer magazines, it is a bit of a monster, as far as file size is concerned.

SuburuDriveMag-1-lgThe first issue inside the digital magazine weighs in at over 550 MB, caused mainly by inclusion of layouts in both portrait and landscape.

There is a fair amount of animation here, mainly limited to the use of captions, and rarely are layouts extended off the page with the use of scrolling text boxes.

In short, Subaru Drive Magazine is a very attractive, well designed digital magazine. But one with a major flaw.

If there is one common error made by new tablet launches it is not testing the new publication on multiple version of the iPad. I’m sure most Newsstand developers have the latest version of the iPad rather than an older model. As a result, what seems to be fine when tested on the latest tablet suddenly can be become a buggy mess on an older model. That was my experience here.

Despite fairly simply layouts Subaru Drive seemed sluggish, and when I reached the middle of the issue it crashed altogether (as you will see in the walk-through video below – glass breaking sound effect added for your enjoyment). No matter how many times I tried to get past this part of the magazine I couldn’t do it. Maybe rebooting my iPad might have helped, but clearly something was jamming up the tablet’s memory enough to make it crash.

This can probably be fixed rather easily, assuming enough readers point out the problem. Then Subaru Drive Magazine can join the other automaker branded magazines as a digital publishing worth pointing out to other publishers.