AppWatch: A look at what publishers are launching in mobile apps
Application: WineRatings+ App
Produced by: M. Shanken Communications, Inc.
Price: Free with in-app purchase options
Platform: iPad & iPhone
Description & Features: Don't know the difference between a Chenin Blanc and a Sauvignon Blanc? The world of good wine is a big, intimidating place, but with Wine Spectator's new "WineRatings+" app, you'll be able to impress your friends with your vast wine wisdom and make purchasing and drinking decisions with ease.
The WineRatings+ app features educational articles and videos about the fundamentals of wine, a wine ratings search function (with the option to filter by price, score, producer, name and region), and a real-time news feed which allows users to stay up to date on current wine culture. The app also provides vintage charts covering 55 of the world's principal wine regions and grape varieties to help wine drinkers assess the quality, character and peak drinking time of each region's wines. Users can easily save wines to their "favorites" list for future reference, and share their top picks via social media such as Facebook and Twitter.
"I think one of the best features of smartphones in general is constant access to breaking news. Our WS360 tab is a news feed that delivers all the original content we post on our Web site, WineSpectator.com, optimized for mobile. For people really engaged with wine, it's educational and entertaining," said Tom Matthews, Wine Spectator's Executive Editor.
When asked about the best feature of the WineRatings+ app, however, Matthews, responded, "Our database —which now contains more than 270,000 ratings, with an additional 1,000+ reviews added automatically each month—is the most comprehensive and credible source of wine reviews in the world. Wine lovers are taking full advantage of the opportunity to use it where they need it, in wine shops and restaurants." The wine reviews database includes ratings, detailed tasting notes, release prices and current auction prices—all the information needed to make smart, informed wine purchases.
At no charge, WineRatings+ grants access to the vintage charts, educational videos and daily newsfeed. For $2.99 per month, users can access the entire wine ratings database. The app promotes a range of Wine Spectator products and enables users to subscribe to the magazine directly from the app.
Matthews told Publishing Executive there are no current plans to release an Android version of the app, although he points out that members of WineSpectator.com are able to access a mobile version of the site (with all the same content as the WineRatings+ app) from their Android smartphones.
According to a press release, overall, the app is "designed for casual wine drinkers as well as connoisseurs… [and] helps wine lovers make better choices, discover great values, learn about wine in general and stay updated on what's new in wine."
- Kara Robart
Application: Metropolis New City App
Produced by: Artefacto
Platform: iOS and Android
Description & Features: What better way for architects to visualize their designs than with augmented reality? Metropolis magazine, a resource for professionals in all areas of design and architecture, recently embraced AR to bring a design to life on the cover of their Brave New City issue. By downloading the Metropolis New City App to their tablet or smartphone, Metropolis readers can view the "city of the future," featured on the cover, in three dimensions.
"You can move your device closer in to get a real close look at the 3-D model image," said Kimberly Taylor, Director of Marketing at Metropolis magazine. "This, however, is just a teaser into what this technology ... can do for the architecture and design industry."
The Metropolis New City app was built by Artefacto, and features the same technology Artefacto used to create Urbasee, a groundbreaking 3-D visualization tool for architects, developers and designers. With the Urbasee app, "architects can design, review, experiment, share, communicate, persuade and make the non-existent exist," according to a recent press release.
The app, the release continues, "creat[es] a new platform for collaboration, and real-time 3-D modeling capabilities." Metropolis plans to keep working with Urbasee to integrate the technoogy into future covers and editorial features.
The model profiled on the cover was a creation of architectural firm Grimshaw, which partnered with the magazine to bring the technology to the October 2012 issue. "[The mobile tool] is revolutionizing how architects present their projects to clients and ... [the] press for publication purposes," Taylor said. In other words, a win-win for design firms and publications looking for compelling art.
- Kara Robart and James Sturdivant