Newsstand News category review: The Fayetteville Observer launches app for Elite Magazine

A look at new tablet editions and a review of the News category overall in the Newsstand

The pace of new publication launches into the Apple Newsstand has slowed considerable over the past year, though by the standard of print magazine launches the pace is still quite brisk. Last month, when I reported on the number of apps inside the Apple Newsstand there were 967 total apps inside the News category. Today, almost exactly one month later, there are 985. That is not a huge jump. But still, if there were 18 new print news magazine launched in one month media observers would be declaring the resurrection of print.

Elite-iPad-lgBut the reality is that the reason so many new launches are still occurring, four years after the launch of the original iPad is that the rest of the world is catching up to the U.S. and U.K. in tablet editions. Of the last 50 or so recent app launches, only a handful are English language magazines.

One of those new apps is from The Fayetteville Observer for its magazine Elite. Elite Magazine is a unique app in that it was built by Technavia, a company more known for its newspaper replica edition apps. This is the first magazine app I’ve seen from the company, and it is no surprise that it, too, is a replica edition.

The magazine is written for the military personnel and families of Fort Bragg, the base near Fayetteville, North Carolina.

The app is a bit sticky on my third generation iPad, a problem I am seeing more and more with new apps. On a new iPad mini, the app’s navigation is a bit smoother. The replica edition can be read in both portrait and landscape. In portrait, the magazine pages fit fairly well, and because their font choices are large enough, the magazine can be read without pinch-to-zoom. In landscape, the issue is not reduced down to fit height-wise, but width-wise.

Elite-iPad-textThe issue I read, though, had an problem with text rendering. The pages load properly and go from blurry to crisp, but then finally render with what looks like two sets of text on top of each other. It leads to a very unsatisfying reading experience, though the effect is inconsistent.

Other recently news magazines include one from Turkey that looks interesting: Print on Demand is another replica, this one uses Magzter. The digital edition is nothing special, as it is simply a PDF, but one wishes Apple would get serious about translation services as the subject certainly interests me. (My guess is that Jony Ive could care less about translations as it does not involve design. If one is holding out hope that a platform will introduce in-app translations it will probably come from Google.)

POD-coverDuring the review of this category, I discovered another new bug that is effecting the Apple Newsstand. When one looks at the apps in iTunes or on the iPad in the Store, one sees the icons – usually issue covers – with no problem. But right clicking to get the link to the app, then seeing that link online in Safari (or another browser) one goes to the same app listing online but the covers (icon) does not show up. It appears as a broken link.

I know few people use iTunes online to look at apps, but I do it quite regularly. I find the app via iTunes, then right click the cover to get the online link, then load that link into Safari to see the same app online. Why? Because the online version of the app shows different information as as the original release date.

Last fall, the Newsstand fell into disrepair when the categories no longer showed all the apps. It took weeks for Apple to solve the problem, and even today there are problems with the top carousel and the “New” section. With all the employees Apple has, it looks like the App Store team has been reduced in size, or the team is sleeping at their desks.

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