BREAKING NEWS & VIEWS
Second LIFE: Time Inc. Brand Brings 75 Iconic Years to iPad
Friday, January 6, 2012
The latest project is a $12.99 iPad version of the lap crunching coffee table book Life 75 Years: The Very Best of Life. This app was designed with The Wonderfactory. The Life 75 app takes a novel approach to bringing a book to digital life. There are the expected audio and video enhancements. The app has over 30 clips, including great reminiscences from the photographers and editors who either took the shots or made the decisions which to print and why.
But the interface design is the real feature add here, albeit at times more cumbersome than helpful. The app offers itself as two apps in one. In portrait mode the reader can laterally swipe through a large catalog of Life magazine covers separated into eleven major sections covering celebrities, war, heroes and villains, etc. In this orientation the reader is just in lean back browse mode, with the interface of a typical digital magazine.
Turn the iPad into landscape orientation, however and the app gushes with content and gets under the cover so to speak. The various sections have intros, the multimedia clips and a trove of photos drilling further into each of the book’s themes. The images fill the screen, with pop-ups that revel captions and added features. You can also tap into a timeline view that organizes images by decades.
There are handy tools for bookmarking. The app includes a game that challenges you to match expertise the photo editors of Life and their final choices for an image.
As much as the gimmick of moving between landscape and portrait modes seems clever, it is actually tiresome in practice. In landscape mode you are prompted to switch orientations in order to see the cover for the issue in which the current image lived. Actually, once the iPad is in one mode or the other, we are not thrilled about twisting it frequently. We would have been just as happy having an optional pop-up in landscape mode that gave us the cover with less effort if we wanted and left as an option engaging in the reorientation trick.
We also think there is a missed opportunity here to leverage this 75th Anniversary with more promotion for how Life.com lives on in a very vibrant state. Share buttons would have been helpful in pushing people to Life.com from the images encountered in the book. We also wish the Life.com link in the nav bar offered a more consistent experience. The link calls up (very slowly) the mobile version of the lush Web site. The initial interface for m.life.com looks poor on a tablet, because it appears to be a non-optimized smartphone site. In fact, the mobile experience for Life.com adapts brilliantly to the larger screen, with higher-res thumbnails filling the page. But you have to get past the deceptive first impression. A tablet-specific landing page for the app link would be helpful. In fact it seems a shame and a waste for iPad users to get kicked over to that same mobile entryway in the Safari browser as well.
But those are nits. Overall the app format is made for Life and Life is made for apps. The joy of the magazine was its immersive experience. While the scale is smaller here than the original oversized magazine, the effect is similar, largely because now the rich captioning is elective and does not have to intrude on the power of the raw image. Striking, editorially driven images make points, add insights, evoke deep feelings. This is what made the golden age of magazines, well, golden. The app platform adds a layer that not only augments the original but in some ways eliminates some limitations of print.
If you have breaking news to share please contact min’s editors.
min's Social Media Guidebook
|Copyright © 2013 Access Intelligence, LLC. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Access Intelligence, LLC is prohibited. For more details please see Terms and Conditions.|