The animated cover is alive and well at TIME magazine
The magazine still produces creative animated covers for its weekly issues, this week’s version helping to illustrate its cover story on the troubles at Uber
The animated cover was one of the very first features that made digital magazines very different from their print counterparts. In fact, many first time iPad owners waited anxiously for some of their favorite magazines to finally appear in the App Store (and then the Newsstand), just to see if what they might do.
Here is TNM’s original post, for instance, for the first app digital edition app for WIRED, published May 26, 2010 (notice the stupidly small screenshots that needed to be clicked on just to see anything).
“Weighing in at 576 megs, the long-anticipated Wired magazine app has made its debut in iTunes this morning,” TNM wrote in 2010.
The story reflects the difficulties of early digital edition apps. Condé Nast had been working with Adobe in the early days, and used Flash. Clearly, Apple was not going to stand for that and so a different solution was needed.
“Wired, which has been working on an e-reader edition since last summer, has pursued a different path than its Conde Nast brethren by partnering with Adobe Systems. That decision later landed Wired on the wrong side of Apple, which has banned Adobe’s Flash technology from its devices. Wired and Adobe had to rebuild the magazine’s app in Apple-approved code,” the WSJ story on the app said.
Building an issue using code was hardly going to be a good way to go for long and eventually publishers found easier solutions, including Adobe’s own DPS.
But the days of animated and interactive editions did not last very long. Today, the best digital magazines simply reformat their content for easier reading on digital devices, usually making sure they work well on smartphones, with the iPad editions not much different, if at all.
But the animated cover is not dead, and TIME magazine remains one that uses it to promote its issue through social media, as well as to offer something a bit different online.
I obviously miss the excitement of the early days of digital editions, and think publishing executives have made serious mistake not embracing them, just as they made a mistake not embracing the web early on. Maybe this, too, will be reevaluated.