April 20, 2016 Last Updated 2:58 pm

New Arts & Photography digital edition apps: FujiLove, Kroma and three apps for Rigas Laiks

The pace of new digital magazine launches has slowed so much that TNM no longer tracks them, a result of most titles having launched an app some time in the past six years since the original iPad was released

There used to be a time here at TNM when at least two or three times a week I would look at a new digital edition app, selecting a few to look at from the dozens released each week into the Apple App Store. But over time a few things combined to slow the pace to a trickle.

First, so many publishers decided to launch digital edition apps that after a while most had them, so there was no need to launch a new one. In other words, the pace slowed because the number of possible new launches decreased.

Second, Apple stopped maintaining the subcategories of the Newsstand (now simply the category Magazines & Newspapers) and so discovery because such an issue that anyone thinking of launching a new tablet magazine was forced to think twice – would anyone find it? (not likely), and if they find it, would anyone subscribe? (some would), and would they stick with the digital magazine, even after getting reminded each month by Apple that they could cancel that subscription? (unfortunately, few would).

FujiLove-iPadFinally, many publishers decided that they would not invest in a native digital edition and took the easy way out by using PDF replica apps. They found few readers liked them, but at least the effort cost next to nothing.

There is very little to say about most PDF replicas that hasn’t been said before. So, TNM rarely looks at them, except by mistake – maybe the app shows some nice full page images that might give one the impression that the app will deliver a native digital edition, but once opened it is apparent that it is merely a replica.

It has been so long since I ventured back into the App Store to look for new apps that when I saw several unfamiliar titles inside the first category I opened I was shocked, but pleasantly surprised.

Unfortunately, the first app I looked at, KROMA Magazine by Ioannis Spanoudis, doesn’t look like it is ready yet. Released a few days ago, the app, when opened, allows you to subscribe for free, but there are no issues inside the app yet.

I’ve encountered this many times in the past six years. Apps are released unexpectedly by Apple and the publisher is caught by surprise, with the first issue not yet ready to be uploaded. I don’t really know why Apple’s App Store team would approve a digital magazine app without a, you know, digital magazine. But I’ve stopped questioning what Eddy Cue’s team does after three years of the mess they have created.

My guess that soon an issue will appear and I’ll look back at the app. It sounds intriguing enough” “Kroma is the Art Magazine you have always in your pocket,” the app description says. “Greece is a very interesting place to be right now. Art is exploding. Meet young artists and their work.”

Two other new digital magazine apps also were in the category, both from the revenue-share platform PressPad.

One is actually a series of three apps for the magazine Rigas Laiks – one for English, one for Russian and the other for Latvian.

The apps require a paid subscription and only deliver a PDF replica so I passed.

The other, FujiLove, is also built via a PDF, but it turns out that the print magazine looks to have been built smaller than normal. So, it turns out, the PDF is readable on an iPad – less so on an iPhone. (Screenshot above-right from the iPad edition.)

Since the monthly magazine is for Fujifilm X series camera users, and therefore a marketing tool for Fujifilm, it is free of charge. But like other apps from revenue-share platforms, the app appears under the name of the vendor, not the publisher, so its marketing value is diminished somewhat.

In the end, my brief moment of excitement at seeing some new digital edition apps, ended up in disappointment once again. It remains hard to find any decent examples of good digital publishing practices. There are a few that pop up every once in a while. But Apple, vendors and publishers are conditioning iPad and iPhone owners to expect the worst. In that regard, they are not letting us down.

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