August 6, 2015 Last Updated 2:30 pm

First look: National Theatre Backstage and Gather Journal

Two more recently released apps that use the new Adobe Digital Publishing Solution show that, despite using the same platform, designers can still create unique looks

The release of the new generation of the Adobe Digital Publishing Suite, now to be called the Adobe Digital Publishing Solution, has also meant the first apps being seen using the solution. So far TNM has looked at apps from Qantas (here)and SWISS Universe (here) and have been most impressed. But also a bit worried. Both apps have the same sort of boxy look, and the concern I would have is that like the iPad app from the NYT, and those that followed it, there would not be enough variation in design to excite art directors and publishers.

Well, I now doubt that this should be a concern.

nationalth-iPadAdobe has posted a page with some of the new apps released using the Adobe Digital Publishing Solution as a gallery of apps designers can check out themselves – this is a good idea for a number of reason, not least of which is that Apple’s App Store remains a mess when it comes to app discovery.

One reason Adobe moved in the new direction is that more and more media app developers are concerned with producing good digital editions for the iPhone, not just the iPad. One new app, though, that is iPad-only comes from National Theatre, called National Theatre Backstage. The app is also exclusive to the Apple App Store.

The app is beautiful and has the advantage of tremendous photography, often of very recognizable actors. The look does not have the feel of the two apps mentioned above, having its own unique design and feel.

One selling point of the new Adobe DPS is that it can produce digital editions that can be constantly updated so that the idea of set publication schedule can be thrown out. That is true here to a certain extent, but the app still allows for an internal newsstand of publications, as can the second app I looked at from Gather Journal.

Gather Journal is built for both the iPad and iPhone, and works very well on both – I included iPad screenshots only just because they still show a little more design.

Introducing the Gather Journal recipe app, an essential extension of the James Beard award-winning biannual print magazine. With stunning photography and an easy-to-navigate format, search and cook from all the recipes in the Gather archive.

Gather-iPadUnlike the app from National Theatre, the Gather Journal app has also be released into Google Play and the Windows Store.

While the app for National Theatre is free of charge, Gather Journal will be charging $0.99 for a monthly subscription or $9.99 for an annual subscription. For those publications still looking to have their digital editions boost paid circulation and fall neatly into their audits, having their app be able to sell individual issues will still be important. But if more and more creative publishers decide that their digital editions should be constantly updated, they may not qualify under the description of digital replica.

This is where the AAM will have to look at their own guidelines and make adjustments. My own recommendation would be that any such new digital edition could be still considered a digital replica if at the time it first was published digitally it contained the same content as the print edition. Regulations already allow for enhancements and additional content, so I don’t see why they couldn’t still qualify.

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