iPad Magazine Done Right: The New Yorker App

by Randy Murray on May 25, 2011


I’ve been extremely unhappy with the slate of magazine translations to the iPad. I’ve tried several and haven’t found them to be compelling enough to leave behind the print versions. And a big part of that has been the price. The price for iPad magazines has been shockingly high and there’s been no break for existing subscribers.

Until now. Finally the publishers and Apple have come to agreements and we’re seeing the fruits of these discussions. As soon as I heard it was possible I downloaded The New Yorker app (again), and set about giving it a thorough test.

The results: much better and a pleasure to read this way. But there’s still some way to go.

The New Yorker app is set up for single-issue readers and sales. It’s clear that the subscriber feature has been tacked on. It’s not easy to identify yourself and it took me two or three attempts to get it to agree that they knew me. Once properly registered, the app changed the issue selections from “Buy” to “Download.”

Note: I had to login again to download the following week’s issue. I hope that’s not necessary every week.

Downloading is a problem. The magazine files are large and it takes several minutes. If you switch out of the app the download ends and you’ll have to start over. I found this annoying. I’d prefer that downloading took place in the background and I’d like an option to automatically download the latest issue when it’s available.  I haven’t used the archive option yet. But since the issues are large I imagine that I will archive them as I finish each issue.

The proof, however, is in the reading. And the reading experience is excellent. New Yorker articles are often long and in-depth explorations of an issue or topic. I found the experience of reading on the iPad screen to be somewhat easier than on the printed page. The art was crisp and bright and the text was easy to read.

I found the navigation to be completely workable. In this, the app is superior to the printed magazine. I could easily find and go to any section or article. I particularly liked the Cartoon Gallery where I could view all of the cartoons for the issue. It’s fun to discover them in the pages of the magazine, but this is a nice bonus feature.

There are added benefits, including audio, video, blogs, and access to the archive, which includes every issue of The New Yorker going back to its founding in 1925.

There are frustrations that are unique to the digital world. When I read an article in the printed magazine that I think someone else might enjoy, I save the magazine for them. But I found myself stymed when I wanted to immediately share an article from the iPad app. There was no way to share an article. I can understand the publisher not wanting to give away content, but they missed an opportunity by not letting me email or tweet about the article with a link on how to purchase the issue, either online, in the app, or on the newsstand.

This is definitely more like it. Over the next few weeks and month I’ll know if I can completely abandon the print edition or see if the app is a companion to it.

I strongly urge you to read The New Yorker, whatever the version of your choice. It is always interesting, funny, and insightful. You’ll find some of the best writing, the most in-depth reporting, and truly fascinating analysis, all fact-checked by the best editorial staff working today. If you think it’s stuffy or snobbish, you’re completely off the mark.


The iPad Magazine Done Right: The New Yorker App by Randy Murray, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Rog May 25, 2011 at 8:32 am

Great post and agreed. I tried the new version and hit the subscription button and it really felt like the future had arrived. iTunes took $60 from me and I had to authenticate once. That was it - an incredibly easy and satisfying experience. Others are doing the same since the annual subscription is #1 on the in-app purchase chart.

The New Yorker should absolutely be commended for bringing this kind of experience to market. The iPad edition reflects the paper version - it’s for reading, not browsing. I feel like I’m holding a copy of the New Yorker albeit with tech bells and whistles - it’s been tweaked but the essence of the magazine has been translated superbly into the digital version (and a reminder again of how the actual iPad device gets out of the way when running a well designed app).

Like you said.



Randy Murray May 25, 2011 at 8:51 am

Thanks, Rog. It’s useful to have the input of a new subscriber - a digital only subscriber. Thanks for sharing!


Brent Eades May 26, 2011 at 7:03 pm

I agree entirely. It’s a lovely reading experience, and now I can probably start throwing away some of those stacks of print New Yorkers that are accumulating in corners of my house.

The only thing I’d really like to see added is direct app access to the ‘complete online archive’. But as it is I can get that through Safari on my iPad. That alone is well worth the $60 a year. Eighty-five years worth of the best writing anywhere for $5 a month — sounds good to me. I’ve already found dozens of fascinating Thurber pieces I hadn’t seen before…


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