May 27, 2015 Last Updated 3:56 pm

First look: Museum iD from Brighton digital media design firm Surface Impression

This is the first app to be seen inside the Newsstand from a developer that specializes in working with museums, charities and educational organizations

In the early days following the release of the original iPad, it was not terribly unusual to see magazines released as native apps rather than as products of digital publishing platforms. The idea was that by developing the digital magazine purely as an app one could utilize all the different features found in games and other apps. The trend didn’t catch on.

Because of this, I think digital publishers will find this new app from Surface Impression of interest.

MusID-iPadMuseum-iD is an independent thinktank for museum professionals which publishes its own print magazine. The Newsstand app of the same name is the digital version that can be read on both the iPhone and iPad, in landscape as well as portfolio.

For those designers used to the way an Adobe DPS, Mag+ or other platform built magazine looks, this one will feel a little different. The reader, for instance, does not swipe to move from page to page, or article to article, but uses the arrows and previous/next buttons.

As strange as it may sound, this obvious way to navigate feels foreign once one has read dozens (or in my case, thousands) or digital magazines. Had I seen this magazine in 2010 I probably wouldn’t give the navigation any thought at all, but after five years of digital publishing to iPads, this feels very different.

But very different does not mean bad. On the contrary, the digital editions are well designed, though a bit repetitive in look.

The issues inside the app cost £3.99 ($4.99), with an annual subscription priced at £24.99 ($32.99). That’s a bit pricey for a digital magazine, but the app comes with a free sample issue.

The app appears inside the Newsstand under the name of the developer, Surface Impression, a Brighton, UK digital media design firm that specializes in working with museums, charities and educational organizations. Surface Impressions has 11 other iPad apps and 15 iPhone apps inside the Apple App Store. Museum iD is the companies first launched into the Newsstand. Two of the regional apps the company has created is Brighton Museums, and iPhone only app first launched in 2011, and Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, a universal app launched last October.

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