Android tablets may feel like big phones, but there are some tasks that they are simply better suited for. Reading magazines is one of them, and things have changed quite a bit from when we last looked at magazine apps for Android two years ago.
What is the best way to get access to your favorite subscriptions? Here are five Android apps that fit the bill.
Google Play Newsstand (the successor to Google Currents) ships on many Android phones, so it’s the first option most folks will see out of the box. Since the app ties into Google Play, purchasing magazines is as easy as installing games. You can buy issues one at a time or sign up for a subscription, with the option to pay monthly or annually depending on how long you’re ready to commit.
But how does the experience compare to reading a physical magazine? The content is the same, and you can scroll through each issue as you would a PDF without missing out on any of the material.
Alternatively, you can switch to text-only mode and strip away all of the distractions from an article. You can actually browse through the entire magazine in this way, with Newsstand listing everything as a list of stories. Unfortunately, there’s no consistent way to differentiate between full-length work and short little blurbs at a glance.
Newsstand doesn’t just manage magazines. Google wants it to be the one place you need to turn to for most of your news. That means it can pull in information from other sources as well.
You can read the magazines you purchase from Google Play in a web browser, although this is a feature that all four of the apps below also tout.
Since consolidating magazines, newspapers, and blogs within a single app may not be ideal for everyone, it’s a good thing that there are alternatives available in the Play Store. If you want an app dedicated exclusively to magazines, Zinio is the one for you.
Zinio has a clean interface that shouldn’t feel unfamiliar to anyone who has read magazines digitally before. Issues are displayed in grids, and there are categories to help you find your way around.
When you open a magazine, the panel at the bottom helps you quickly hop around. You can read visual or textual versions of articles, with Zinio’s distraction-free view coming off as sleeker than Google’s own.
You have the choice to buy single issues or get subscriptions, though it’s worth noting that Zinio pushes you towards making an annual commitment. To compensate, the app is available across platforms. You can get it for Android or iOS, and there is a desktop version for Mac and PC.
Let’s say you’re interested in small, local publications that aren’t available in any of the above apps. Maybe you just don’t want to pay for magazines. Either way, Issuu can help you out.
Issuu is a web platform that helps magazine publishers get their work into a digital format without having to do the heavy lifting. Over a million have turned to the site to make nearly 20 million magazines available to readers.
The Android app doesn’t feel drastically different from the other options here, but it does change things up a bit. There’s more of a social focus here, with buttons available encouraging you to share content through social networks and other apps. It also highlights related publications, so you can quickly find what to read next.
When it comes to digital publishing, Amazon is the 400-pound gorilla in the room. There’s a good chance you’re already turning to the company to supply your ebooks, so why not consider getting magazines through it as well?
The Kindle app can provide access to magazines right next to your books. Obviously everything works seamlessly if you have an Amazon Fire tablet, but the Play Store app is also a good way to get to your Kindle library on a traditional Android device. Like Zinio, it’s cross-platform, and there are desktop clients available.
Barnes & Noble’s Nook offerings have never managed to snatch nearly as much of the market as Amazon, but that hasn’t stopped scores of people from picking up one of the company’s tablets.
If you’re immersed in Barnes & Noble’s ecosystem, the Nook app lets you access that content from an Android device. You can get monthly or yearly subscriptions and read them in the same place as your books.
Like Kindle, the Nook ecosystem is cross-platform and comes with desktop companion software.
Now That We’re On The Same Page…
Which app is right for you? Google Play Newsstand wants to be your one-stop-shop for news. Amazon and Barnes & Noble both offer magazines to complement their books. Zinio approaches issues with a singular focus, and Issuu is around to hand out many of them for free.
Share your thoughts on each method below, or chime in if your preferred way of consuming magazines on an Android device isn’t on this list.