After 10 minutes of mental debate over whether or not to buy it, we realised we are suckers for anything new and shiny. We caved, and burned $5 to download the app.
After another 10 minutes of waiting for the fat file to load into the iPad, we left our home, iPad in tow, jumped on the subway and read and played with the app.
In short: The Wired app is great, but it is too expensive.
For a longer review, read on…
It’s expensive! $4.99 is the price per app download. Sure, that’s the same price as the newsstand, but we can go to Wired’s site right now, and buy a year’s worth of Wired for $10. (Where’s the option for that on the iPad?) Or better yet, we can go to Wired’s website in our iPad browser and see much of this for free!
When we click on links in ads, we’re taken out of the application. We’d rather stay in the application like when we click on a link in a Twitter application.
There’s a few bugs in the app. When we were playing with the Mars planet feature, which allows you to rotate the planet we got stuck in the page. We couldn’t get out. We tried swiping to turn the page but it just rotated Mars. But, this is the first issue, so tiny bugs like this are to be expected.
We want bigger fonts. We’re young in age, but old in heart. We LOVE being able to make fonts big so we don’t have to strain our eyes. In long run we hope this helps keep our eyes in decent shape.
Can’t copy text, can’t send links to stories. If we like a story, we can’t copy a passage and pass it along to a friend. We can’t email an article to our friends, either. This is a big step back from the web, and Nick Denton is right to rail on magazines for this.
Holy cow, are there a lot of ads in the the magazine. We haven’t bought or read a magazine in a long time. There sure are a lot of ads in here! But, we suppose that is a good thing for Wired.
Now that we’ve gotten our rather niggling complaints out of the way, let’s talk about what’s great in this app.
All the promise of an interactive magazine is delivered. Right off the bat, we click on the cover and we can watch a clip from Toy Story, which is the subject of the cover story. We can also play with graphics in the stories which is fun. Scrolling up and down for longer stories is nice, galleries are also well done.
User interface is pretty nice. We can see the table of contents on the left, or we can see it running across the top. It’s a nice and simple way to browse the magazine.
We can skip the ads pretty easily! Sure, there’s a lot of ads, but who cares? Super easy to skip them thanks to the aforementioned user interface.
The ads are interactive. Sounds cheesy, but we liked watching the video on the Nissan Leaf. We also flicked through the nice True Blood ad. When we clicked to buy True Blood DVDs we were brought to Amazon’s site (and it looked like Wired would get some money for that referral.) Long-term, that’s promising for Wired. Imagine seeing an ad for Nike sneakers and buying them right in the app?
On balance, we think Wired has done an excellent job. If you still like reading magazines the old-fashioned way, this app delivers and then some. But, that’s the bigger problem: Do you still want to sit down and read a magazine?
There seems to be a mentality in the magazine world that people want to read magazines the same as they always have, but with a few more bells and whistles.
And that’s all this Wired app is. It’s the exact same thing you’ve always received, just gussied up. Just like you would get a magazine in the mail, sit down and dedicate yourself to that magazine alone, Wired, and others think you want the same in digital format.
That’s not what we want. When we want to read, we like to read good stories. We don’t really care which magazine originated the story.
In essence, our magazine is Twitter or Techmeme or Business Insider. When we use those sites, we get a diversity of opinion, and broad range of stories. If there’s a great Wired story, one of those sites will probably point us to it. (And it’s probably going to be free to read the story.)
If we have an iPad in our hands, with access to millions of stories and video, we’re not interested in locking ourselves into one editorial vision. Sure, fancy graphics and short videos are nice, but the media world is fragmented. As nice as Wired’s boxed-in application is, it’s not a substitute for being able to read anything we want from anyone.
That said, Wired’s circulation has held steady over the last year, so clearly, people still like reading magazines as magazines. If consumers like the traditional paper magazine experience, they’re going to love the digital magazine experience on the iPad.
Wired just needs to lower the damn price.
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