May 30, 2014 Last Updated 11:33 am

New B2B tablet editions show move to native digital editions is strong, but not universal

First look at new Apple Newsstand apps: Contractor from Aspermont Limited (Australia), North American Oil & Gas Pipelines from Benjamin Media (US), and Meat Management from Yandell Media Group (UK)

The B2B segment is slowly catching up to its consumer cousins with the release of native digital editions. While many of the more interesting consumer titles being launched into the Apple Newsstand come from outside the US – simply because US titles have long ago launched apps – in B2B there is still quite a number of new apps being released from US publishers.

Three new B2B magazine apps are good examples of what we are now seeing coming into the Newsstand.

Contractor-iPadContractor is from Australian publisher Aspermont Limited. The app is one of four that the company has recently released.

A native tablet edition, like many B2B digital editions, it makes its issues available to readers free of charge and without pre-qualifying. Its mechanism to do this is a bit clunky as one has to subscribe to access anything. The app, though, has a box for downloading individual issues, as one might buy an individual issue of a consumer magazine. This though does nothing.

But once inside the latest issue the magazine performs better with native tablet layouts (the app is not universal) and easy to read content.

I don’t know what platform was used to create the Newsstand app, though I wouldn’t be surprised to learn it was Oomph, an Australian digital publishing platform. The issue I downloaded came in at a modest file size just barely below 100MB.

North American Oil & Gas Pipelines is the latest iPad app from Benjamin Media, which now has seven total inside the Newsstand.

NAOGP-iPadThis B2B has been using the Adobe Digital Publishing Suite to create its digital editions, and this app is very similar to its others. The app is well made and the issue inside came in at a very small 22.7MB in size.

One anomaly I discovered is that the app’s icon is missing when one views the app online. Most readers download their apps directly through the app store found on their device. Others, like me, download the apps using iTunes, entering the store that way in order to better manage my huge number of apps, only a few of which end up permanently on my device.

But one can also see the apps via your browser, either by doing a Google search for the app, or by copying the link in iTunes and pasting it into your browser.

What I have increasingly found is that while the app may look OK on your iPad inside the App Store, or in iTunes in the App Store, sometimes the app is missing its icon when viewed in a browser on your PC. Why is this? It is most likely because the developer forgot to submit a generic icon at the same time they allowed for automatic updating of the icon within the Newsstand. Developers should remember to check out their apps using every method – device, iTunes, browser – to make sure their apps and their app descriptions and screenshots look good in every situation.

MeatMgt-iPadThe third app is more typical of what B2Bs used to launch. Meat Management is from the UK publisher Yandell Media Group. But one would be hard pressed to know this via the app as it appears under the vendor’s name inside the Newsstand, and all links from the app description lead back to the vendor, rather than the publisher.

Not surprisingly, the app is a replica edition. Because the print magazine is sized in the typical British fashion (A4), it is does not easily shrink down to the iPad’s display ratio of 4:3. As a result, the pages, when displayed on the iPad, contain lots of white space on the left and right sides of the page when in portrait. In landscape the two-page spread fits a little better, but reading the issue in this orientation is impossible without pinch-to-zoom – and who wants to use pinch-to-zoom? (One can tap the page to enlarge the issue, making this a tad easier, though then the page floats about the display as it on water.)

The app itself contains lots of nice features such as its opening dialogue box which instructs readers as to how to subscribe, as well as the navigation features. Also, this is the only one of the three apps that is universal.

One element missing, though, is what are starting to see more frequently in replicas: text version of the stories where the reader taps the headline and a new window comes up with an easier to read version of the content.

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