This is part of the Top Magazine iPad series
At first glance, it seems a bit strange that such a big name in the magazine industry as Newsweek would charge only half of what many other magazines are pricing their own iPad apps (usually on a $4.99 per issue basis). The download of the app itself is free, (and even comes with a free mini mag version featuring Obama), but after a short-lived play with the Newsweek app though, it soon became an unfortunate truth to me that the $2.99 pricing was probably just about acceptable. Perhaps it is to emulate the sleeker and minimalist look they’ve adopted for the website, but on the iPad, it kind of hits a flat note. Here’s a rating list of why.
1) Usefulness/Value to User
-This app doesn’t seem to offer anything particularly extraordinary, and what’s a pity is that it doesn’t seem to even attempt to wield the iPad’s great potential for the magazine medium at all. Fair enough, Newsweek announced their iPad version would follow up on continuing to distribute their high standard of quality journalism, which it certainly does, but let’s face it, if journalism’s just what you’re looking for, why not save that $2.99 per issue and spend it on the print version instead? 5/10
-Interactivity levels are extremely limited, almost to no features. Newsweek magazine has always been renowned for its great writers and journalists, pitched alongside stunning photo spreads. While pictures look amazing on the iPad graphics, the Newsweek app in general is not a comfortable read or look. The amount of sheer pinching you have to do in order to so much as read a sub-headline (let’s not even get to the image captions) takes a LOT out of the experience. In addition, possibly the most troublesome aspect of the app is that pages take an incredible amount of time to load. 4/10
3) Price/Business Model
-Newsweek probably did the right thing in not hiking up its price onto the same level as other magazines; it would probably fare very poorly after a few months. Apart from stunning images and quality journalism, though, the iPad platform probably hasn’t been manipulated to its maximum potential in order to really deliver even on the relatively low pricing of $2.99 per issue. Kudos though, for knocking the app’s price down to half of the newsstand cover price; probably one of only a few incentives for the user. 6/10
4) Additional Functionality
-No sharing content features on Facebook, Twitter, etc. Font size isn’t the only problem; apart from the actual article content and images, there isn’t actually much other content: no audio, nor video, no preference settings, not even a table of contents. Kind of does look like a ‘how-not-to’ in magazine iPad transition conduct. 4/10
The Newsweek iPad app has turned out to be slightly disappointing. It fails to make maximum use of the iPad platform to enhance the magazine experience. Pricing is probably just about right, in all fairness, especially because buyers will be guaranteed the same great content that the magazine is famous for…as long as they don’t mind a lot of squinting and a lot more pinching. The minimalist look was what Newsweek went for. Unfortunately, a minimum standard app is all users will probably find.
This is part of the Top Magazine iPad series.