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.
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.
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.