One of my favourite pastimes is reading. When I was a boy I would often read the blurb on the side of the cereal box over breakfast (despite instructions not to read at the table), a habit that extended to road signs and even the small, tiny details on the back of toys and games about where the manufacturer was based.
You might call it obsessive (I call it inquisitive) but it’s something I just can’t stop doing: I love reading. Given the amount of research I find myself doing here at MakeUseOf that’s not a bad thing, but recently I’ve found my office space becoming encroached with more and more magazines.
The obvious solution is to bin them, but then I lose a potentially valuable resource. So it’s time to think outside of the box and choose the second most obvious solution – forget about buying physical magazines at all, instead opting for digital alternatives.
So many magazines are now available on popular newsstand apps that it seems ridiculous to continue with print publications if you have a suitable reading device – such as, for instance, an Android tablet.
Before we get started on looking at the various newsstand apps presenting slick page-flipping versions of print magazines, it would be wrong to overlook the various online versions of some of the world’s biggest-selling magazines.
Titles such as GQ, Maxim, Men’s Health, Popular Mechanics and Wired are all available to be viewed in your browser, and while they don’t offer the full paper reading experience the content on offer is considerable, and shouldn’t be overlooked. Our list of the top men’s magazine sites for viewing in your browser features even more titles.
A popular choice with a huge selection of titles, Zinio feels almost alive, partly due to the fact that it seems to offer a different bunch of titles every time you launch it!
As you might expect, magazine newsstand apps require you to setup an account in order to make purchases, and Zinio is no different. Account creation is fast and painless, however, which means you’ll soon be browsing the list of titles again in no time. It’s worth mentioning the depth of options in the Zinio settings menu, which includes options for specifying your location for relevant titles and widget configuration – this last option, when combined with push settings, enables the app to let you know when new titles in your preferred categories (entertainment, science & tech, sports, etc.) are available.
The Zinio magazine reader curiously requires your postal details when purchasing a magazine, but seeing as it also allows you to pay by PayPal this is worth overlooking. However, switching to the browser version of the service to complete transactions is a little frustrating. Fortunately, reading the downloaded titles is extremely easy, requiring just swipes to move through the pages and double-taps to zoom in. It’s a great app!
You might have thought that Kindle was a platform limited to the reading of books, but you couldn’t be more wrong. Physical readers and Kindle apps on smartphones and tablets can be used for reading other types of printed material, including magazines, and this is true on Android.
While newspapers are also available through the Kindle Store, magazine titles as wide-ranging as The Spectator and New Statesman to Women’s Adventure high risk sports magazine and PC Magazine.
Some titles are free, while others are quite low-cost – subscription options (including free trials) are also available. The presentation might not be as polished as that found in other newsstand publications, but the focus is on the content, rather than the aesthetics…
Buying titles uses that familiar Amazon process, and within a few moments you should have the title downloaded to your tablet ready for reading!
With an easy to use interface and a wealth of titles, Magzter features titles in categories from Art to Travel. Requiring a user account to download even the free titles (of which there are several across all categories), Magzter is pleasing to use and has localization options for help in viewing publications relevant to your location.
Any titles that you’ve bought can be easily found in the Purchased tab, while those that you check regularly can be marked as Favorites for quick access.
As for reading titles, swiping left and right moves through the pages, and the pinch gesture can of course be used for zooming. A double tap will open the page browser across the bottom of the display, enabling you to scroll through the magazine’s contents until you find the page or feature you’re looking for.
Probably my personal favourite (thanks to the particular magazines I can purchase through it) PocketMags again has a great selection of titles and is the only one of these apps that offers specific settings for deleting content and handling videos that might be embedded into your chosen magazine’s pages.
The PocketMags store includes as wide a range of titles as you might expect – while there is some overlap between this and the other apps, it is fair to say that this newsstand offers a very large selection. Note, however, that this app doesn’t offer localization options, which means you can often find yourself browsing through titles intended for different countries, something that has its advantages and disadvantages. Purchases are easy to make, and reading is a pleasure, with swipes and double-taps enabling quick page turning and zooming into particular sections of text.
There’s little need to ever buy a printed, physical magazine ever again when you consider the amazing depth of choice that is now available for Android devices.
These apps are all easy to use, offer simple, intuitive controls for turning pages and browsing catalogues, and most importantly they offer an experience that is almost as compelling as owning the physical product. While that is never going to be completely beaten, having digital magazines instead of paper publications is a great way of saving space, cutting down on recycling and ultimately – hopefully – reducing the destruction of forests for paper production.
But best of all, the ease with which you can switch from another app straight into your favourite magazine and read while it downloads is simply unmatched. If you’re not already reading magazines on your Android phone or tablet, you should start as soon as possible!