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Deciphering the Wired/iPad Tea Leaves

I was thumbing through the current issue of Wired Magazine (yes, my analog, arrived in snail mail, maybe delivered by Pony Express version). In very small print on the table of contents, under “New Media” was an interesting note.

We’ve collaborated with Adobe to develop the Wired Reader, which will run on pretty much any platform: iPad, Android, Windows, and Linux.

Woah, working with Adobe to make something run on an iPad? How in the blazing “no flash shalt ever be installed in thy iDevice” can that happen? Might Adobe be looking past Flash?

Hardly, and this is not really new news.

It was announced February 2010 at TED and there is a slick “demo” published on the Wired site “The Wired Tablet App: A Video Demonstration

Last week Jeremy Clark from Adobe and I unveiled the first glimpse of the Wired Reader at TED. Above, you’ll see a video, narrated by Jeremy and Wired Creative Director Scott Dadich, who led our tablet team, that shows more. It explains why the tablet is such a groundbreaking opportunity for magazines such as ours.

What Jeremy and I showed was not a CGI demo or concept “” it was running live code with real copy. The content was created in Adobe InDesign, as is the case for the print magazine, with the same designers adding interactive elements, from photo galleries and video to animations, along with adapting the designs so it looks great in both portrait and landscape orientation. This is a departure from the usual web model, where a different team repurposes magazine content into HTML, unavoidably losing much of the visual context in the process. Wired.com is not a re-purposed version of the magazine, but rather an separately-produced news service.

Looks rather slick, indeed, though some sources like Monday Signal: Oh, the Irony of the Wired “iPad App” the description as a true demo, for some, seem stretched:

However, the truth is this: This demo was made using Adobe software (not available in native runtime on the iPad) and run off a Dell laptop. I’ve confirmed this with Adobe. Also true: the software used to create the demo will absolutely NOT create or compile apps that work natively on the iPad. And this is due to decisions made by Apple. Yes, there is a kludgy workaround that Adobe has authored, but it’s handicapped, to say the least. As much as the Apple would like to claim it has banned Adobe for technical reasons, by all accounts outside of Cupertino, Apple has banned Adobe due to control and economic issues: It simply doesn’t want developers able to create software from which Apple won’t profit.

I dont really care about the minutiae details of Apple vs Adobe or this versus that. It’s just an interesting episode to play out.

I have to say, the demo on the video does look interesting, yet I see marginal “newness” in this “new media”.. it stil feels like a magazine on a “reader” is still pretty much the vestigal print archetype, with some media and navigation thrown in. I see little newness in the idea of what a magazine could/should/might be.

This is incrementalism. It’s also weird, to me, that Wired’s whole framing is in the vein of “tablets” which feels old to me as a name– the cover issue title is “Rise of the Machines- How Tablets will Change the World”.

But I’ve not read the issue yet, so maybe I should reserve judgment. Yes, I am going to use my Paper Reader, taking advantage of the swiping page turning technology I can use by gripping the pages by the corners and moving them, and the jogger bar navigation where I can jump to any page in the issue.

What I’ve not seen in the New Snazzy Wired Reader is how they will embed the digital equivalent of all those paper wasting subscription card inserts, the letters in the mail I get 8 months before my subscription expired warning me I am in dire danger of missing an issue, and of course- the digital versions of the ads, ads, and ads.

Read the new boss, same as the old boss (power chord, guitars and drums explode….)

Profile Picture for Alan Levine aka CogDog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at CogDogBlog.com on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.

Comments

  1. I have to say, the demo on the video does look interesting, yet I see marginal “newness” in this “new media”.. it stil feels like a magazine on a “reader” is still pretty much the vestigal print archetype, with some media and navigation thrown in. I see little newness in the idea of what a magazine could/should/might be.

    Well said, Dog, and in many ways the biggest issue I have with the iPad is the insane hype machine around it, which seems to confuse marketing with the future of edtech. That annoys me far more than the actual technology. And to see the educational crow eat it up like icandy is all the more annoying.

  2. That there will be a single app just for reading “Wired” feels like we’re regressing for the sake of publisher profits. Maybe that’s what the industry needs to do to stay alive. Or maybe this will lead to a fatal blow…

  3. Adobe already has Flash-to-iPhoneOS compiled apps available in iTMS (for example Chromacircuit). The next release of Flash in the CS5 suite will incorporate compile to iPhone/Touch/iPad. The demo may have been done with Air but I wouldn’t be surprised if Adobe pulled a rabbit out of their hat and gave Wired an iPad compatible solution using InDesign. Don’t forget that Wired would still be selling via iTMS anyway so Apple still makes money off the product, regardless of what was used to compile it.

    Does this mean Apple won’t pull any more tricks? Who knows but I still wouldn’t count out Adobe.

  4. One commentator noted that hyperlinks from the Wired app worked in an interesting way: like popups, which, once closed, returned the viewer to the original page. i.e., keeping you in the Wired world, rather than pushing out into the Web. Interesting, if so.

    Agreed on the hype machine. Which is vast, now!

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