Review: Time Magazine for iPad

October 16, 2011

Ten years ago, sitting on the couch “watching” TV while perusing the current issue of Time was common enough. Now, you can do the same thing, but with so much hipster style your parents will sniff and perhaps sneer — to each his own. However, unless you want your iPad to walk out the door when they leave, don’t ask them to try Time for iPad.

If not for their Steve Jobs commemorative issue, I probably wouldn’t have given TIME Magazine for iPad (free app) a first, let alone a second look. Having had a taste, I’m all the more convinced the future of print is Apple’s world changing tablet.

The first thing to love about the iPad is a throw back, or throw away depending on your perspective. Print subscribers get the iPad edition for “free,” though the rest of us here in the US and abroad need to pay the cover price of $4.99 per issue.

In the case of Time’s commemorative Steve Jobs issue, five bucks is a no brainer — the previously unseen photographs are worth that alone. However, what’s needed is the same $30 per year sub price (i.e. 88 percent off that print subscribers enjoy) — that would represent a full year of value that begs, “Why not?”

Click through for a user interface diagram.

As you can see, Time for iPad offers a rich mix of content and it’s well presented. The many beautiful photos are cleverly captioned and there are a fair number of embedded video clips, notably in advertisements.

Like the print edition, there are also info graphics but my guess is that there are more in the iPad edition. Another plus is the Latest News section, which offers updated daily articles, including feature length pieces — I really, really like this add on.

And, best of all, Latest News articles include out links (into a sandboxed browser) to the additional pics, stories and stuff that Time for iPad sometimes lacks

See also: iPad magazines: Reader’s Digest is warmly familiar

For example, the info graphics shown above could, and I think should, be linked to larger versions of the images if not the original stories, videos and photos — Time has a decades deep repository of content to drawn on and this is the perfect medium for leveraging it (putting ads on it).

Similarly, the Briefing section is engaging — the presentation offered is nice, though I would like to see more individuals items and links out to additional content.

However, there is a ton of content in Time for iPad — a somewhat fleshier version of its print self. If you read everything, you could easily spend three hours getting through it all.

And, this brings to mind the crux of the matter. Whereas Time’s editors have clearly spent time and love including, parsing, cutting, building, limiting and presenting to beautiful effect, $5 per issue price presents an untenable value proposition in a world where you can get Netflix for $8 a month.

More is more, more or less

One of the reasons I stopped getting The Economist was, sublimely thin though it is, I rarely finished it and that caused me guilt — sort of like throwing away $30 a pound smoked salmon that’s not as fresh as it once was.

So, although I’ve whinged repeatedly in this review about wanting more, I will give Time’s editors the benefit of the doubt on how much content to put in and trust that more is coming — how can it not?

Still, where the publisher doesn’t deserve the slightest bit of slack is pricing. The fuel, time and effort to deliver a hunk of dead trees that’s going straight into the recycling bin so I can get the digital version is absurd. Paying the full $259.48 ($4.99 x 52) cover price to avoid wasting the trees, gas and the mail carrier’s lower back is more than eight times as absurd — seriously, do you want me (a digital age male with smart income to spend) as a reader or not?

In the mean time, I’m very much enjoying Time’s Steve Jobs commemorative issue — the thought and care put into it are abundantly and pleasingly apparent. Save some space on the couch for me…

What’s your take?

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