Spoiler alert! You would think a slick app (or newstand app) that was named as Apple’s iPad App of the Week would be stellar, especially on an iPad 3. And it might have been if it would have downloaded at a reasonable speed. Which it doesn’t. Based on what I saw Two Stars is generous.
I finally upgraded my iPad. After a year of watching apps slow to a crawl on my iPad because they were being released for iPad 2, I went ahead and bought a third generation device. My Apple Care was about to expire anyway and I couldn’t justify writing reviews for this generation’s apps on a machine that old.
I don’t regret the purchase for a minute. I can finally use iMovie and play We Rule without waiting for an hour for the game to load. The colors are brilliant. Sure, screen shots take up four times the memory and I have to turn off my ATT account before streaming Netflix movies to make sure I don’t take the hit for what I can watch with WiFi. But I always turned off my 3G account for the same reason anyway.
So I downloaded the first App of the Week available for me to review on my new iPad, Vogue. Okay, I wouldn’t read Vogue on my own, but I’m tired of letting readers know that I wouldn’t use the app if I didn’t review it. I’ve pretty much decided Apple wouldn’t pick an app as App of the Week if I was likely to fit in the developer’s target demographic.
Nonetheless, I figured this would be an easy review. After all, it’s Vogue, right? If anybody has the money and the design savvy to pull off a five star app, who does? And even if Vogue is the ultimate celebration of conspicuous consumption at a time when most American’s a reeling from the backlash of a fifty year orgy of consumption, it had to be a cool app. Right?
Then I realized the catch. Vogue isn’t an app, it’s a Newsstand periodical. Newsstand is Apple’s attempt to launch a magazine reader alá Kindle, Nook and Zinio. This means that you can’t really read an issue until you either pay for it, or in some instances, pay for a subscription.
But the other readers keep the magazines contained in the app. Newsstand launched the magazine as a standalone app that runs simultaneously with Newsstand. This means you have two apps draining battery life in the background.
The layout is fully optimized for the iPad and organized around a central dominant image. You can navigate down to read more or across to find another article.
But that’s a problem for Apple to solve, not the magazines they supply. The advantage of Vogue for Newsstand is that the magazine is completely redesigned for iPad delivery. It isn’t simply a digital PDF reproduction. If you love Vogue, you should love this version because it takes full advantage of the Retina display. (See how I worked that iPad 3 reference in?)
The magazine is fully interactive and laid out for the iPad display. Each page is contained in the window and you can touch and drag down and across to move to different pages. The layout is graphic intensive, with photos dominating and text moved out of the way.
If you want to jump to another article you simply hold your finger down at the bottom of the display and a scroll bar appears complete with a picture in picture preview of the front page of each article.
You can also navigate with a popup scroll bar that includes a picture in picture preview of each article.
The magazine is breathtaking. The photos pop with vibrant colors and super sharp clarity impossible to achieve with print or even highly compressed PDF files. Eye candy makes you want to buy product and Vogue delivers more eye candy per display than most.
This, sadly, sums up the biggest problem with Vogue. The quality is so good it takes way to long to deliver. The free preview issue, which was basically a preview of the contents, two very short articles and some video commercials, took more than twenty minutes to download. The view button implies the magazine download is streamed, but you get very little content until the entire issue downloads.
To further whet your appetite, Vogue includes several free preview issues. I never got through them. It took another twenty minutes before I could actually look at a single article in the Met preview (although I could preview the ads). If I tried to look at any other articles I got a blank screen with a loading bar. Plus, if you jump to one downloading article it stops the download on all other articles.
For forty minutes all I could see was a couple of ads, one article and this load screen. I gave up. No review is worth that much futile download time.
I finally jumped over to another app to see if the issue would download in the background. When I checked back an hour later, not only had the download stopped, it reset to the beginning. The one article (and ads) that downloaded remained, but everything else was back to zero.
You do have a number of in-app purchase options. You can buy a subscription, a magazine, a single article or even the cover. That’s far more flexibility than I’ve seen with other eReaders. If I could buy individual articles, I would use Zinio a lot more than I do.
Although, now that I think of it, they would probably jack up the single issue and subscription price to justify the single article price.
In the end, the best I can say about Vogue is, “Could have been, would have been, should have been.” Unfortunately, it isn’t. Oh, well. Maybe they need to sacrifice some of that vibrant high-resolution color and deliver some speed.
Jenny Manytoes rates Vogue
Jenny Manytoes would bunch her tail at Vogue. She has the luxury of taking a nap while it downloads, but she knows I don’t and I get irritated when I wait for it to download and then I don’t scratch her head fondly because I’m too damn irritated. And no magazine is worth her not getting her head scratched.
Oh, wait. She’s dragging it to the litter box. I’m going to have to stop her because that tiny little, itsy bitsy, teeny weeny portion of the sample I did download was spectacular.
The Jenny Manytoes Rating System
Jenny Manytoes, our polydactyl cat
- When Jenny makes biscuits on a product she thinks she’s in heaven.
- When Jenny purrs over a product she’s very happy.
- When Jenny naps next to a product it’s okay with her.
- When Jenny bunches her tail she can live with a product, but she has higher expectations.
- When Jenny leaves it in the litter box….I don’t think I need to explain this one.