December 15, 2014 Last Updated 12:30 pm

New digital editions choose to design their Apple Newsstand apps in landscape

First look just three new digital editions: American magazine from American University, Inner Circle from Regent’s University London, and Journal Le Devoir

In the very early days of the iPad, one of the discussions among digital publication designers was whether to design their new digital editions in portrait or landscape. The conversation almost seems quaint today as so many of the new apps that hit the Apple Newsstand are replica editions where no design effort is put into the digital edition at all.

American-iPadBut a number of new apps have been released that are, indeed, designed in landscape – and the effort to design specifically for the digital devices that will be used to read the publication shows that the effort is worthwhile. All three new apps are worth a reader downloading.

Two the new Apple Newsstand apps come from universities. American magazine is from American University and is the digital version of the print magazine that is published three times a year.

The app uses the Adobe Digital Publishing Suite to produce its digital edition, and the issues inside the apps are free to access. With such a loose publishing schedule one might think that the designers would have plenty of time to design their magazine for the iPad – and it shows, this is a very well done digital magazine.

The magazine does just about everything I can think of right. By using the Adobe DPS the publisher had to be concerned with file size, so by eliminating the portrait orientation the digital edition can be a modest 176 MB in size.

Also, while the icon appears in landscape inside the App Store, inside the reader’s iPad, once installed, the icon shows up in portrait, just like the vast majority of magazine apps inside the Newsstand. Newspapers usually have landscape icons, so by going with a portrait icon the designers are instantly saying “magazine” – this is a very small thing, but it shows that the team that put this together really knew what they were doing.

Inner Circle – Regent’s University London Alumni Magazine appears under the developer account of Aptus Interactive Ltd, which appears to be the same company as, which has a number of digital magazines inside the Newsstand, many designed in landscape.

The new digital edition of the alumni magazine is also free to access and will appear quarterly.

Designwise, the magazine is more like a printed magazine in that layouts are in three columns, and therefore the font choices are a tad small when read on an iPad mini. The pages are designed in units rather than as one flowing block.

It is a very nice digital edition, even if it is not as inventive as the one from American University. Of the three digital editions designed in landscape mentioned here, it is the only one to have included iPhone support in their app. It probably wasn’t a good idea as the pages were not designed to fit the iPhone’s display.

Le Devoir is a French language newspaper from Montreal that does not have the luxury of being able to spend months designing its digital edition. So Journal Le Devoir, the Apple Newsstand app released in early November, has to utilize standardized, simple layouts.

Because of this, the app can also read in portrait.

The emphasis is on sharing news content, though while the tablet edition is free of charge to access, any links to stories will end up running up against the newspaper’s paywalled website. Because of this, the article on Québecor which looked like an interesting, if provocative read, could not be accessed so I could have it translated.

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  • Amanda Jennison 3 years ago

    Thanks for this awesome write-up on one of Bates Creative’s newest projects for American University. We think the digital edition with Adobe DPS turned out spectacular as well. It’s a great example of how higher ed institutions can leverage this technology to create interactive apps.

  • Kevin Grasty 3 years ago

    To piggyback on Amanda Jennison’s comment, thank you for featuring the American Magazine app. Our close partnership with Bates Creative to design and launch the app is truly reflected in the execution because the Bates team worked to really understand our digital goals, and that we wanted more than a replica of our print magazine. We wanted to leverage the assets that make our print issue special, like the large format photography that is central to some of our our storytelling, and extend the user experience on the app with that imagery, other brand elements, and interactivity, where appropriate. Another advantage is that we are not limited by having to run paid advertising which made the landscape orientation appealing as well. We were hesitant about committing to the landscape mode because of the additional time required, but Bates helped us see the advantage and unique benefits of this option, and encouraged us to trust that it was worth the extra effort on the front end to re-imagine our content and stand out a little more.