May 14, 2014 Last Updated 1:50 pm

New digital magazine app, inexplicably leads off Newsstand category, app contains no content

Newsstand categories still lack curation, encouraging some developers and publishers to take advantage of the opportunity to launch highly suspect digital magazine apps

The mismanagement of the Apple Newsstand has become a favorite topic around these parts, and I’m quite sure that some readers are getting bored with it. So why not let it go? Because the subject is too important to those of us committed to digital publishing, and because so few others want to raise their voices in harmony with the rest of us.

Here is another example: Baseball Informer Digital Magazine, a new digital magazine launched into the Newsstand. Only a year ago, this post would have been a short look at another of the many self-published magazines that were appearing every day inside the App Store. Many of these titles were using the MagCast platform, and today many seem to prefer the PressPad platform.

This one got my attention because it is leading off Apple’s Sports category under “New”. To review what “New” now means in the Newsstand categories: the new section used to be an area where Apple’s app review team picked a dozen or so new releases to promote; but today it is simply all the apps in alphabetical order.

Sports-category-new

But there is something glitchy about Apple’s system that puts one app up front, then all the rest in alpha order. So under Sports we see Baseball Informer followed by the other magazines starting with Aaron’s Golf Magazine. But this phenomenon is inconsistent. Under Arts & Photography and many other categories all the apps are simply in alpha order, but under Business there are four magazines starting off the category, then the rest in alpha order.

If you think others haven’t figured this out you would be mistaken. There are 14 relatively new apps from a developer releasing app under the developer account name of Andrew Alexander. These apps, you won’t be surprised to learn, are named Aaron’s Art and Photography, Aaron’s Golf Magazine, Aarons History Buff Magazine, Aaliyahs Womens Lifestyle Magazine, Aaliyahs Healthy Living, and so. (Since there is a performer by the name Aaliyah I think a lawsuit might be in order here.)

It’s pretty clear what is going on here: someone is taking advantage of Apple’s broken App Store to launch digital magazine apps that they know will get promoted inside the store simply because the name of the app starts with “Aa”.

MagC-iPad

The library page for new Newsstand app, devoid of issues

But why is there an occasional app placed just before the first Aa app? At first I thought that Apple’s system was picking up the most recently released app to place there, but that is not the case. Baseball Informer Digital Magazine originally released on April 18th. Since then 28 additional apps have beeb released that are both free and are using the Sports category.

Did Apple actually pick out this one for promotion? Absolutely not. You why it is easy to tell? Because no magazine actually exists inside the app.

Installing and opening the app leads to a blank library with the name of the vendor, which in this case is MagCreators – a company I had not heard of before. Their website contains a video which, honestly, needs to be seen to be believed.

Sometimes magazine apps get released into the Newsstand without issues ready to go. Developers get surprised by Apple’s release of the app and have to scramble to get their magazines ready for readers. But this app was released into the store a month ago so there is no excuse. As the app has the necessary screenshots, and the publisher – Brad Ebert – has created a website to support the app, one has to assume this is the fault of the vendor used. I doubt the fault lies with with publisher here, unlike the situation with the portfolio of new apps released all with names that begin “Aa”.

No matter, Apple shouldn’t have approved the app when there was no issue to see, how would they know this wasn’t another of those Russian porn apps? The answer is that Apple’s app review team isn’t doing their jobs and the result is a crazy, corrupt Newsstand that is doing publishers no favors.

Note: I reached out to the MPA and to Playboy for comment on the issue of porn magazines being released into the Apple Newsstand, but received no response for either party.

  • Wojciech Szywalski 4 years ago

    Hi Douglas. Apps reviewing process often looks like a mess and seem to be based on personal narrow interpretation of the App Store’s policy. However even if we have got app rejected (sometimes it happens due to e.g. Google glasses visible on the screenshot!), we always get fine support from Apple team (even if we think their rejection policy is weird) so we can comeback with proper fix. Anyway I am totally with thesis of your article.

  • Amy 4 years ago

    A lot of publishing softwares like MagCreators are mushrooming. Their service quality is bad. I have been a victim. Apple Newsstand needs some serious improvements if it needs to survive long term.

  • Jimmy 4 years ago

    I wanted to publish my own magazine. I went through a couple of providers including MagCast (Ed Dale), MagCreators (Kieron Sweeney), TapEdition. They are all unreasonably expensive and their promoters just sell big dreams. I found http://www.magloft.com as genuine. Its really good and affordable. Its new to the market but may be you should consider it as one of the options before making a decision. My magazine development is in process. I will share the link as soon as its live.