July 24, 2014 Last Updated 2:46 pm

Launch of a larger iPhone may convince more publishers to create new native iPhone apps

Native iPhone digital editions such as The Magazine or British Journal of Photography+ may prove to be good models for some magazine publishers

The fall will feature the introduction of a new, larger iPhone 6, according to every tech site on the face of the Earth. At first blush this would seem to be not a very important development for publishers producing digital editions. But a larger display may convince some publishers that they need to reexamine what they are doing on iPhones, especially those producing iPad-only native digital magazines.

VF-April-iPadiPhoneAs vendors have added iPhone support for their digital publishing platforms, many magazine publishers have been converting their iPad-only Newsstand apps to universal apps. But both replica editions and hybrid editions are usually rendered with adjustments on the iPhone – a solution that, while giving one an iPhone edition, is generally hard to read and requires the reader to constantly use pinch-to-zoom.

Many digital publishing platforms do support native iPhone editions, sometimes in separate apps. These editions generally resemble the iPad magazines built by 29th Street Publishing or TypeEngine, best exemplified by The Magazine, the digital magazine launched originally by Marco Arment.

Jet-iPhone5-lgIn the fall of 2012, Apple released its first version of the iPad mini, in response to the growth of smaller tablets. The introduction of the iPad mini meant that publishers now had to consider how their digital editions would look on the smaller display and a number of publishers released updates that optimized their apps for the smaller tablet including The New York Times. But the introduction of the retina version of the iPad mini made this somewhat unnecessary for most digital editions as they were still a comfortable read.

BJP-iPhone5-W-lgBut now along comes a larger version of the iPhone, and with it a display that makes reading magazines and newspapers a bit more comfortable. For those who produce replica editions and place them on smartphones, readability has never been a consideration (which, you will notice, bothers me). But vendors at the very least make their platforms display different in-app stores and libraries.

Often the effect of a new product introduction is overestimated, and most publishers will probably take a wait and see attitude towards the new smartphone. But I do think that if a publishers wants to create a digital edition that can be read on a smartphone, and with Samsung’s larger Galaxy S phones selling well, one should see that readers may return to the phones for reading if it proves to be a comfortable experience. Apps created a while back, such as the Mag+ built app British Journal of Photography+ from Apptitude Media are good models for other publishers, with digital editions that are native to both the iPad and iPhone.

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