The Creative Review iPad App

The Creative Review iPad app is (finally) here, with exclusive content and updates throughout each month for your viewing and reading pleasure. A free sample is available now

The Creative Review iPad app is (finally) here, with exclusive content and updates throughout each month for your viewing and reading pleasure. A free sample is available now

Yes, we know we have been going on about our iPad app for what seems like forever but it is now on sale here.

The first thing to say about it is that, unlike some other magazine iPad apps, it is not a digital version of the printed magazine. It may share some content with the printed version, but that content is presented very differently for a different device and, at least in part, a different audience. And there is a lot more content that is exclusive to the app.


What does it do?
We already have a print magazine and a very widely read website so when we sat down to think about an iPad app the first question was how does it fit in to what we already do and why would someone pay for an app when they can already view some content on the web for free?

The app is designed to provide content that exploits the iPad’s strengths as a medium – longer, more in-depth features than we run on the blog, portfolios of great, full-screen images and hi-res video. If the blog is about news, comment and debate, the iPad is about depth, viewing and reading. Different content in a different format.

As well as providing exclusive, iPad-only content, the app will also update with new content throughout each month. So if you pay for one month’s access, in addition to the content in the app when you first download it, we will continue to update it with new stories throughout the month.


The app has four content sections: Hi Res, CRTV, Features and Ticker. To return to the contents page above at any time, just touch the CR button top left. Touch the section title to go to the first piece of content in that section.

Hi Res is our showcase section, taking advantage of the iPad’s superb screen to display full-bleed images and videos. In it you will find a new feature, My Life in 10 Pictures, in which high-profile practitioners such as Marian Bantjes and Stefan Sagmeister tell the story of their carer so far in 10 images. You will also find portfolios of exciting illustrators and photographers, How It Was Done features on the making of new work, extracts from new books, award-winners and more. Swipe through the images, choosing either page view or full-screen mode.


CRTV is our video section featuring our own filmed interview series along with our pick of short films and other moving image content from around the world. Each video is available either in streaming mode (press Play Video to view) or it can be saved to the app to watch in hi-res offline (press Save Video).


In Features you will find all the feature and Crit content from the current print issue of CR with, where possible, additional still and moving image content. There will also be iPad-only features added to the content during each month.

Each feature begins with a main ‘splash’ image and headline. Scroll down to read the full text and reveal additional images and videos. Double tap these to view at full-screen.

Finally, Ticker (far right column on the home page) is a constantly updated stream of selected stories from the web, keeping you up to date with the creative world. Each story opens in a browser inside the app, making it easy to return to the CR app when you are done.


How much?
The app costs £3.99 a month if you sign up for a rolling month-to month subscription, £4.99 for a one-off, one-month issue and £39.99 for a 12-month subscription.

After a lot of discussion, we decided to follow the same model we employed with our previous iPhone apps for the Annual and Photography Annual and make the iPad app a standalone product, ie not to bundle it in with existing print subscriptions. We know that this may disappoint some print subscribers and it’s probably the one aspect of producing the app that we debated more than any other.

One of the reasons that the app took so long to develop was Apple’s shifting policy on what it would allow publishers to do in this area. We had been looking at options including ‘bundling’ print and iPad subscriptions or offering print subscribers the iPad app at a reduced rate. However, not only do Apple disallow some of those options, they have also changed their position on this. We did not want to be in a position, again, where we developed one version of an app, only for Apple to change their policy, meaning that we would have to start all over. The safest and most reliable route, we therefore decided, was simply to sell the app through the App Store.

Our other option in relation to existing print subscribers was to give them free access to the Ipad app. This would have involved considerable extra development cost and time so we had to make a decision based on whether that time and cost would be justified by the likely number of print subscribers taking up the option and the incentive value of offering both in the future.

Our research revealed that the vast majority of print subscribers want to read the magazine in print and not on screen: very few of them currently take advantage of the fact that they can read magazine content here on the website, for example, and equally tiny numbers took up our E-CR PDF-based option in the past. Also, with CR, many print subs are taken out by companies who share a copy: you cannot do that so easily with the iPad. I’m sure there are exceptions and I know already from Twitter and emails that we have received that some are disappointed that they are not going to be given the iPad app for free, but we had to make a decision based on the bigger picture.

We were faced with delaying the app even more and pushing up our development costs still further for the benefit of quite possibly very small numbers of subscribers. And if we had done that, the pressure would have been on us to recoup those costs by increasing subscription prices, as other magazines have done, thereby asking all print subscribers to pay for something that only a minority can take advantage of.

I hope that by being so open in our decision-making on this, even those print subscribers who are disappointed that they won’t be getting the iPad app for free will understand why we have gone down this route. We’ll always listen to what our subscribers ask of us and we are not ruling out offering combined print/iPad subs in the future if there is sufficient demand.


Who built it and how?
Our iPad app was developed for us by Alasdair Scott and Simon O’Regan at The Brightplace. We decided not to use one of the iPad magazine platforms on the market and instead built our own CMS-based system. Because we have very limited resources here at CR, we needed a system that would allow us to deliver the maximum amount of content to readers with minimal production time. Therefore, we have gone for a very simple, template-based system which we can manage within our own team and which allows us to update the app with new content relatively quickly  throughout each month. Under Apple’s system, we are able to update once a day.

What’s next?
All publications develop over time and we are already working on additional functions for the iPad app (as well as, of course, taking in all your feedback for tweaks to this version). One of the first things we will be looking at is sharing content. The idea of sharing content is tricky for iPad apps – what exactly would you share and, given that someone has to download the app in order to access content, why would you share it? We believe we have an interesting take on that – watch this space. The current version of the app does not allow people to comment on stories. We believe that the blog is the best place for debate plus, not everyone enjoys that side of things. Those stories that we think people will want to comment on will still appear on the blog. The app offers a different experience, more about inspiration, viewing and reading, more appropriate for a device that is not always online, and more suited to those who don’t like to venture below the line into the sometimes heated world of the comments section. If there is great demand for commenting, we may look at this again. In the meantime, please let us know what additional functionality you would like to see in later versions of the app.

If you would like to give the Creative Review iPad app a try, there is a free sample issue available here.

  • Richard

    As I am based in Europe, the cost of subscribing to the magazine is something I have to really consider. I am happy with the solution of the CR iPad app as it provides me with a cheaper way to get almost all of the magazines content. I will only be missing the beautiful tactile nature of the printed item, which is a shame but practical decisions sometimes have to be made.

  • From a quick glance it’s really rather disappointing. The download took forever and was confusing because it seems to download multiple items, each time resetting the progress bar.

    The actual issue has a seemingly pointless animated cover, when you tap on one of the images you are taken to an ad and not the feature; but the biggest problem is the design of the content, the text measure is far too narrow, images don’t support the retina display and the app only works in portrait orientation.

  • PatrickBurgoyne

    @ Oliver
    The app downloads the core app first, then any updates. It may be that we need to make that clearer and will look at it.

    ‘Images don’t support the retina display’
    All the interface assets support the retina display. Images are 1536 pixels on the longest side which means on a regular display you can zoom in to them but not on retina. They still look great though. All images go full-screen when double tapped. We could bump the resolution up for the future to 3072 but that would more than double file size, thus increasing download times – and you are already complaining about that. :-) I’m not sure the ability to zoom in is worth the drawbacks in terms of file size and download time. These things are a trade off, but we will experiment.

    As for dual orientation, people will have their preference but I’ve always thought designing two versions of every layout to be a colossal waste of time. The important thing is that all images and video content are dual orientation at full screen, so films play at full screen if you turn the iPad sideways

    Line length – we’ll have to disagree on that. Long line lengths are not good for reading lengthy features and many of those on the app run at over 1000 words.

  • I am completely agree with the policy of sharing your content on the blog. I am very glad you made this choice, as opposed to other magazines.

  • Lawrence

    Interesting ‘conversation’ between Patrick and Oliver.

    I have to say guys, it has made me want to download and have a good look… I’m very intrigued.

  • David Rainbird

    I’m surprised that the app forces readers to hold the iPad in portrait mode. There isn’t a correct way to hold an iPad and I doubt that there’s a majority preference for one way or the other. If I’m offered a choice I always prefer landscape – I just find the iPad easier to hold and the content more legible in most apps that way.

    I don’t agree that designing two versions of every layout is a waste of time – especially with such a clean, minimal layout as this. I always think that the developers of single-orientation apps are a bit lazy – I know it’s more work, but it’s just the same amount of content in a different layout, so not that much more work. If CR were offering this as part of the print or online subscription then I wouldn’t complain, but it’s a separate revenue stream so there’s really no argument to cut corners.

  • Reading this I really feel like downloading and testing it out. The free sample issue you provided really seems good.

  • Good job guys, I can’t wait to purchase it. I bet it’s a blast :)

  • Just bought myself an iPad 3 😉 The screenshots are looking neat! Will download this app tonight

  • I really wish I had an iPad after seeing this,
    Shame there is not a digital issue for android.

  • I also just got my first Mac, AND my first iPad all in one fell swoop! The screen shots look sweet, will deffo download and try this out tonight when I get home :)

  • We downloaded the app today, very impressed keep up the good work.

  • Doug Finste

    Wow! I like many others, I’m sure, had almost given up on your long anticipated ipad app. The monthly trails and lengthy period of anticipation, at first look simply isn’t worth the wait. As the perceived benchmark for all things truly creative I feel you’ve let your readers down. This app could have set the standard for publication apps and you had the opportunity to be truly amazing. Instead of which, you’ve been too safe and as mentioned previously, simply lazy in places! Shame.

  • Leigh Percival

    I’d really love to be joining in with a review and enjoying my access to the CR app as a full time subscriber alas some beautiful soul saw fit to steal my iPad2 along with last months printed edition o Creative Review so please hurry up and send me My copy of the May CR magazine :(

  • gregorylent

    downloaded the app .. but the sample issue is not free, have to buy it .. or subscribe … deleted

  • thomas

    iinterested in the app, but the sample does not work. after opening it in the newsstand it says “creative … wants to send an update” , after confirmation the screen is black

  • Shame I can’t get this app on an android device, Looks like I’ll have to invest in an Ipad to get this wonderful app. I prefer reading on screen than a print copy, I find it easier to read and saves space in the handbag.

  • when designing for retina display, the correct workflow is to design all psd files using smart objects, thereby allowing one design that will be responsive to all iPad models. Please correct me if I am mistaken.

  • Is Photoshop used to develop these sort of apps?

    Why is it just for ipad?

    Wouldn’t a responsive web app be better?

  • Smart objects? Is that something you’d use in development or is it PS only?

    Should it have been platform independent?

    Wouldn’t a responsive web app been better particularly when you think about the social aspect?

    This is definitely the way to go. I love the idea of publications being available on tablets. Don’t like straight copies though (Sunday Times).

  • Dan./

    Can we have a Windows8 / Metro version please?
    Any plans along those lines at all?

  • Good job guys The free sample issue you provided really seems good.jocuri

  • Good job guys,Interesting ‘conversation’ between Patrick and Oliver.

  • …an Android version would be good. Better still do it with Google Currents then everyone can read it.

  • Looks great. An Android Version would be good for me also, but it looks like I need to get an iPad anyway

  • A bit of a late comment, but better late than never!

    The app looks great, is there any plans for an Android version?

  • I like the app. But I do think that some things are better in a more tactile printed format. I think Creative Review maybe one of them.

  • Paddy O’Connor

    Have been a subscriber for a year but don’t plan to renew. To be honest I think I’d prefer a PDF of the magazine than the app. Sorry I tried, too heavy and generally a poor reading experience.

  • cn arabic

    I’d really love to be joining in with a review and enjoying my access to the CR app as a full time subscriber alas some beautiful soul saw fit to steal my iPad2 along with last months printed edition o Creative Review so please hurry up and send me My copy of the May CR magazine :(