Mac|Life launches new interactive edition with its January issue

Future plc title launched one of the first interactive magazine back in September of 2010, but effort was abandoned

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The tablet publishing platform got off to a slow start following the launch of the original iPad in 2010. A few apps were available at launch time, but it took a few months for those magazines eager to launch tablet edition to start to have their apps appear. One of those that launched an interactive edition was Mac|Life, the Future plc publication.

The original Mac|Life app appeared in early September of 2010 and was described here at TNM as a “killer tablet edition” in the post on the app (old website link here). That first app was built by B3 Publishing, a company founded by Ken Balthaser. Balthaser Studios was one of the first design studios to play around with what later became known as Flash. They launched a Flash site in 1998 that literally took 15 minutes to load before it would begin to play. But once it did, it was a revelation.

That first Mac|Life as a revelation, as well. The first reader reviews were as positive as any app might see. “Reading some of those reviews puts a smile on my face,” Kate Byrne, then the publisher of Mac|Life, told TNM at the time.

“This is only just the beginning,” Ken Balthaser told TNM. “Once they develop the technology to build once and publish everywhere you will start to see a lot more custom curated digital content and not just print replication — more evolved lean in/lean back and depth/density of information in a Rich digital experience.”

MacLife-instructions-lgBut that app was soon replaced with a replica edition of the print magazine. Having an outside firm design and build your iPad edition may result in a killer app, but it probably is no way to publishing a tablet edition month in and month out.

But now Future plc has launched a new interactive edition of Mac|Life. The Newsstand apps as updated in September, and now today the January issue has appeared inside the app.

All Future apps use their own publishing platform, FutureFolio. That platform can produce both interactive editions, as well as replica editions. (See more on the FutureFolio platform inside the Guide to Digital Publishing Platforms for Magazine Publishers inside the Tablet Publishing magazine app.)

The app may not be the tour-de-force that the original app is, but the digital edition now is something that the company has experience with, and can reproduce with each issue. The tablet edition is now a hybrid edition: with the advertising as seen in print, but the editorial reformatted for digital devices. The app is universal, so the compromises of design are seen in the iPhone version. The identical iPad version is the one a reader would certainly prefer to read.

Mac|Life readers are typically the earliest adopters of new technology and the success of the magazine on the digital newsstand follows that trend” – Kelley Corten, Future US

“The digital edition of Mac|Life has always been a top-seller in Apple’s Newsstand,” writes Chris Slate, editor-in-chief in the January issue editor’s column, “but as happy as we’ve been to see so many people enjoy the magazine on their iPads, we’ve never been satisfied with putting PDFs of our print pages on tablets.”

Mac|Life readers are typically the earliest adopters of new technology and the success of the magazine on the digital newsstand follows that trend,” said Kelley Corten, vice president of content and product, Future US, in the company’s announcement. “The launch of iOS 7 and the maturity of the iPad, in particular, created the optimal timing for us to introduce an elegant interactive product that takes the users’ experience to the next level. Mac|Life has worked hard to ensure the product is intuitive to the platform and will enhance our readers’ enjoyment of the publication.”

Slates states in his column that the new interactive edition is designed specifically for tablets, so iPhone users will still be getting the PDF-based version. “Both versions are included in the single purchase price,” Slate writes, “and each is sent only to the appropriate device, to avoid the bloated file size of a bundled download.”