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I know, MakeUseOf provides you with more than enough quality reading material, but what if you’re after something other than fantastic technology tutorials and app reviews? I think we all have those moments of thinking “I wish I could get some design inspiration for my new living room”, or “how about some light reading material about manly things?” – don’t we?
Well, it turns out that your iPad is the perfect size for reading magazines, and the retina display means text is incredibly crisp. So what are you waiting for? Here’s a few apps to get you started on the road to magazine heaven.
Newsstand is Apple’s built-in and comprehensive magazine subscription store. It’s hard to beat the Apple offering – there’s currently no less than 2,992 digital versions of magazines in the selection, though with prices similar to physical subscriptions don’t expect a cost benefit to using this app.
Newsstand has a special folder on your iPad. Notification numbers will appear on the folder to indicate how many new issues are available to read. The store is one tap away, linking straight to the magazine section of the iTunes store.
Sadly, each magazine is free to create its own interface. It would be nicer if there was a single interface that would work cross-publication. As it is, Newsstand is simply a collection of custom made apps from various publications. While some will launch you straight into their own store, some will give you a free issue to start with, and some have the audicity to make you sign up for a newsletter before you can even access their store.
The pricing is also confusing until you actually access the individual apps; they’re all listed as FREE on the app store, because the app to manage downloads of that particular publication is free (obviously), while the actual downloads are not. It’s a little deceptive, even if the selection is immense.
Despite the deplorable use of a Z in the name where an S would have sufficient, Magster (sorry, I’m not writing it with a Z again) is actually quite a capable application. Though the interface is a little slow to load images and information from the web, it helpfully includes clear pricing and even a “top free” section to quickly find free content (boys, the free Halloween edition of Maxim is quite….interesting). Each issue also includes 6 free preview pages.
Most of the content is also available on the Apple Newsstand app, but I must say I prefered the upfront pricing of Magster and the free section. The inteface is also consistent across magazines, rather than being custom applications, and you have a limited choice of international stores to choose from (China was noticeably absent, as was Japan, if that’s something you’d care about).
Another major player in the magazine space, the Zinio interface feels a lot like Magster. Although there isn’t a specific free section, the Explore tab will take you to a selection of free articles from various publications. Unfortunately the selection scrolls past like s slideshow, and there doesn’t appear to be any way to get at a full list, or move back and forth if something catches your eye.
Unlike Magster, Zinio is also lacking a free preview feature. I guess this doesn’t matter if you know what you want, but it would have been nice.
Zinio claims to have 4,500 titles in the collection globally. There’s a wide range of country-specific stores too. I’m sure my wife will love being able to get the Chinese version of Cosmo Girl.
If you’re looking for a wider selection from around the world, and newspapers are more your thing – PressReader has you covered. It’s a premium service with a monthly fee of around $30 for a digital subscription to 5 publications, as well as unlimited access to others (you can read anything in the library, but only 5 titles will be automatically downloaded when new issues are available).
Alternatively there’s a “pay as you go” option for 99 cents each. Compare the digital subscription price to the cost of actually subscribing to even a single physical newspaper and you’ll quickly see it’s quite a bargain. New users even get 7 free downloads to try out the service, so it’s worth checking it out anyway. An iPad app, online site and various other platforms give you access wherever you want.
You can read my full review on my site.
To be honest, I find it difficult nowadays to justify the cost of magazines at all. I even unsubscribed from my favourite vegetable growing magazine because I can find the same information on the Internet, for free. I know there’s an argument to be made about real journalism vs free blogs, but I just don’t place that much value on curated media. Reddit, RSS, and MakeUseOf is all you need, really.
That said, having access to international magazines, which are rarely available in brick and mortar stores here – and are extortionately priced even if they are available – seems like a really nice feature.
How about you? Do you subscribe to any digital magazines on your iPad? Or have you given up on traditional print media entirely?