May 29, 2015 Last Updated 10:36 am

Weekend reading: Great new app for The Juilliard School from Touchpress; new, updated photo apps from Google

Publisher of Wine Spectator show his distain for digital media by finally allowing the release of a Newsstand app for his oversized print magazine but in PDF replica form

The weekend is upon us, the first following the Memorial Day holiday. That means summer (or here in Chicago, a cold rainy weekend ahead).

If you are looking for a few new things to read, some new apps to explore, while hanging out in the lawn chair, here are some things I would recommend:

Julliard-tocTouchpress Limited has released a new app for The Juilliard School called Juilliard Open Studios – Dance, Drama, and Music Illuminated. Although just recently released, Apple’s App Store team has already decided to promote the app on the front page of the App Store, calling it an Editor’s Choice.

You might remember Touchpress as the creator of The Waste Land, an app designed to bring T.S. Elliot’s poem to life.

Julliard Open Studio uses a freemium model: the reader gets one free interactive episode before being required to subscribe to the app. The cost for a subscription is $7.99 per month which the publisher says will get you “at least two new episodes every month and unlock access to all past episodes.”

The screenshot above is of the table of contents one accesses to download episodes.

Google was busy this week updating old apps and releasing new ones.

Snapseed-menuSnapseed is one of those that got an update, bring the app up to version 2.0.2.

Users of the app are reporting that the update has made major improvements in the app, which was originally released back in 2011. The app is universal.

“Perfect your photos in a snap with the new Snapseed 2.0,” the app description states. “This app brings to your mobile device the power and control of professional photo editing software, previously only available on the desktop. Now with the tap of a finger you can retouch, adjust perspective, re-edit, and more.”

Of course, the other Google app involving photography is the just released Google Photos. The app offers unlimited storage for photos and videos (with some quality limits) and offers some seriously good search and sharing options.

While I admit that having any service automatically save and archive my photos simply doesn’t work for me (think about the hundreds of screenshots I take each week creating posts on new digital edition apps), it clearly is a major step forward for other users.

So far, at least, the reviews inside iTunes are running overwhelmingly positive, and the new photos app surely will pressure Apple to upgrade its own offerings in this area (hopefully, they are already moving forward in this direction and will announce some new features at WWDC).

One app I can’t recommend, but think is worth mentioning is the digital edition from Wine Spectator.

WS-iPadThe premiere wine magazine in the U.S., it is published by Marvin Shanken, someone I used to think was as digitally savvy as Jann Wenner – that is, not very digitally savvy at all. But Wenner has evolved his views a bit allowed digital editions to be released for Rolling Stone and US Weekly.

But Wine Spectator, until now, has refused to release a digital edition for its magazine through the Newsstand*, instead releasing a couple app for tasting notes and vintage charts.

Well, now there is a Newsstand app and one guesses that the reason is that the vendor is giving it to them for free (or at least, I hope this is the reason for the app). Wine Spectator Magazine does not appear under the M. Shanken Communications developer account, but under the account of magMaker Editions LLC, which makes replica editions.

Most replicas of magazine are tough to read due to the page being reduced down, but Wine Spectator is an oversized magazine, so that means the printed pages needs to be reduced an even higher percentage than most magazines.

One guesses that this is a revenue share model as the digital editions are priced high – the same price as print. Smaller type, smaller pictures, same price.

Update: A representative from M. Shanken Communications reached out to say that Wine Spectator has been available through Zinio’s digital newsstand. That version, of course, would also be a PDF replica, of course, though reading it on a desktop with a large display may make it more readable than this iOS app. In any case, I revised the sentence marked with the asterik to make clear I was talking about the Newsstand.

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