AppWatch: A look at what publishers are launching in mobile apps.
The Lighter Side of …. Apps
Application: MAD Magazine (Cheap!)
Produced by: 1K Studios
Price: Free, with in-app purchase options.
Description & Features: The app world received a major transfusion of humor in the jugular vein on April 1 when Mad, the legendary satirical magazine, released an app for the iPad. Free to download, the app offers a preview of each issue, videos promoting Mad’s Cartoon Network TV show, animated covers and interactive features including a version of the magazine’s famous “fold in.” New issues can be purchased from within the app for $4.99, and back issues for $1.99. (Cheap!)
Publishing Executive asked Mad editor John Ficarra a few questions about the app, which he answered in an appropriately sober, straightforward style befitting a business-to-business concern such as ours.
What are the coolest features of the new app?
There are many, starting with the cover! Every issue will now feature a specially animated version of the gag on the cover. I especially liked what we did with the current issue (Mad 515). I won’t go into too much detail, but it involves our idiot cover mascot, Alfred E. Neuman, and massive breasts on the Statue of Liberty. Let’s just leave it there.
Also, the artwork looks amazing. Mad has never been printed on thick, glossy paper, so no matter how good a print job, the artwork wasn’t displayed in all its glory. Now it is. (Unfortunately, the hi-res digital display has not improved the quality of the jokes.)
There’s also some great interactive features. For example, in our first digital edition, we had a “write your own Twilight movie script.” In the print edition, it’s a fairly static piece. On the iPad edition, you physically scroll down and pick your choices. They’re highlighted and then you can go back and read the script you’ve created.
Another iPad-only feature is that in every issue we collect all the tiny drawings by Sergio Aragonés found in the margins of the magazine (called “marginals”) and we reproduce them in a larger size. No more squinting to get the joke!
And, of course, Al Jaffee’s legendary Mad fold-in can now be “folded” electronically.
How do you hope to gain revenue from this free product?
We’re not concerned about revenue. We’re not concerned about the bottom line. At Mad, our core philosophy... our entire reason for being... is to bring humor and levity to our readers’ lives. To make them laugh and laugh. And we’re succeeding! In fact, just recently, we were explaining our core philosophy to our corporate overlords and they just laughed and laughed...
What’s the secret to doing a “fold-in” on a tablet?
The secret is to follow the instructions on the screen and slide your finger so “A” meets “B” The alternative is to put your iPad over the edge of a flat, hard surface, such as a table, and physically fold the entire iPad. That will work, but only once. And while I’m not a representative of the Apple corporation, I’m pretty sure that will also void your warranty.
It’s Good to Have a Plan
Application: Forbes Lifetime Financial Planning
Produced by: Forbes and CrossComm
Description & Features: The Lifetime Financial Planning app, released by Forbes in April, joins the publisher’s Forbes Photos & Videos, Forbes Lists: People and Investment Guide Plus apps in the iTunes Store. The app brings a new angle to wealth management with tools including advice for those just starting to save, a live stream of Forbes articles on investing and an interactive grid illustrating the results of a user’s investment savvy (or lack thereof) over time. There’s even a retirement calculator to assist long-term financial planning, suggesting how much an investor should spend and save through the years to ensure a cozy nest egg.
“Forbes has had an unparalleled expertise in smart investing for the past 95 years. It’s a natural extension to bring that knowledge to an app focused on helping consumers with their financial planning,” Andrea Spiegel, senior VP of product development and video, tells Publishing Executive. “The app gives people flexibility as they address key questions to consider today in order to be financially secure tomorrow.”
To Your Health
Application: WebMD the Magazine
Produced by: Mag+
Details & Features: WebMD is known as the health magazine with a good-looking cover model you read at the doctor’s office. Now, you can get your fill of health, wellness and celebrity verdure anywhere with the magazine’s spiffy new app.
The app offers free downloads of each issue of WebMD, along with multimedia features such as slideshows, expert videos, blogs and interactive quizzes.
“Every page of the app has something extra that is app-exclusive,” says Todd Zander, vice president of mobile and emerging media at WebMD. “Our interactive health and wellness assessments are a great aspect of the new WebMD the Magazine app. For the cover celebrity, we have at least one video about their health-related advocacy, an upcoming film, or both.”
Zander points to extensive in-app extras such as videos, slideshows and news updates, many of which are available without a connection to the Internet. “This creates a rich, engaging user experience that connects the magazine iPad presentation with the wealth of health and lifestyle information on WebMD.com,” he says.
It all adds up to a fun and informative experience, backed up by expert health advice and a personalized platform—not to mention whatever calories are burned by tapping and swiping!
Keeping Up With the Race
Application: Cycling News HD
Produced by: Future Folio
Price: $0.99/week or $42.99/year
Description & Features: Get ready, get set… Future Publishing’s Cycling News HD app is here, a weekly edition geared to lovers of the fast-paced world of international cycling competition. The app offers detailed summaries and stats for weekly road races, event previews, cycling team news, as well as analysis and commentary. A big selling point is the photography—galleries of action shots capturing competition from the French alps to the Australian outback—as well as race routes, maps, and other details. It’s so much like being there, you’ll want to reach for a Power Bar.
“With the launch of Cycling News HD, we’ve created a completely new weekly package of must-have content tailored for international cycling enthusiasts, delivered exclusively to their iPads each and every week,” Richard Schofield, publisher of Cycling News HD, said in a press release.
The app was created with Future Folio, Future’s in-house, Apple-approved app creation software, which the company is licensing to other publishers. PE