Read all about these magazine iPhone apps

Jan 4, 2010
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Today’s top magazine publishers are struggling to get their content in new places. Digital magazines are now available on the Web, and several are now available as iPhone apps as well. Publishers are hoping that you’ll want to read their stories on a device that fits in the palm of your hand and that you […]

Today’s top magazine publishers are struggling to get their content in new places. Digital magazines are now available on the Web, and several are now available as iPhone apps as well. Publishers are hoping that you’ll want to read their stories on a device that fits in the palm of your hand and that you can take anywhere. So, if you’re a magazine fanatic, here’s seven great iPhone apps that should keep your fingers occupied and flipping pages without risk of paper cuts. Also, check out this curated app page on the Top Men’s Magazines.

Of the glossies to go digital, Esquire is on the forefront in terms of iPhone app versions of their magazine. Available for $2.99, you get the latest issue of Esquire right in your hand. Best of all, with Esquire, it looks like you’ll be able to download subsequent issues, which you’ll store on your Esquire Bookshelf to read as you please. What’s great about this is you that you won’t have to download a new iPhone app for each issue, and it allows you to keep the issue you like. The Esquire iPhone app is great because it’s also the easiest to navigate, making this a magazine I wouldn’t mind reading digitally. The stories come up in easy-to-read scrolls that you slide up and down with your fingers. Want to turn the pages? Just give it a quick flip with your finger. 

Gentleman’s Quarterly, popularly known as GQ, also has a smart new iPhone app available for $2.99. It features lots of content and many of the striking photos from the magazine. Launched for their January issue, GQ has some of the best magazine writing around, and the iPhone app gives you a chance to dive right in. Unfortunately, you don’t get the whole magazine, though you do get all the feature stories and spreads. GQ’s iPhone app is probably the most visually striking of those reviewed here.

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Playboy also has an iPhone app of their own for only 99 cents, but it’s a sort of hybrid magazine/ interactive game iPhone app. With it’s familiar bunny logo as your iPhone app button, upon pressing it, you’re launched into the cover of the magazine’s most recent issue. Of all these magazines, Playboy has the most additional content to make you forget you’re reading a magazine, such as extra photos and video content. Although, you won’t have much to sink your teeth into if you’re interested in reading Playboy. Most of the articles are very short and a lot of them from the magazine are unavailable. Those looking for centerfold models in all of their glory will be disappointed as well. While the models all bare a lot of skin, the racier Playboy pictures are unavailable.

While the Style.com iPhone app isn’t exactly a magazine, it’s close enough in my book and it shows how other magazine could look on your iPhone. Available for free, the Style.com iPhone app allows you a sneak peak at the hottest looks for the season and exclusive runway shows. If you’re a hardcore fashionista, this is the iPhone app for you. It’s full of the beautiful photos that populate magazine like Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue. Best of all, it’s free and gives you a ton of content. It’s not a magazine, but plenty of publishers could learn a thing or two from it.

Speaking of Vogue, who I’m surprised doesn’t have an iPhone app much like Style.com’s, it only has an iPhone app for it’s Teen Vogue edition, called Teen Vogue Haute Spot. For a limited time, it is available for free, so download it quick. It’s not the magazine, but more of a style guide from the editors. It has some interesting features that would be a big plus on future fashion magazine iPhone apps, such as a sliding “closet” of outfits and accessories that you can check out.

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For me, Wired magazine should have the best iPhone app out there, if only because iPhone apps are right in the neighborhood of what they cover. But alas, there is no iPhone version of Wired issue — yet. For now, you’ll have to do with Wired Product Reviewswhich is available for free. If you’re interested in getting the low-down on tons of cool new products, this iPhone app has your name all over it. It’s all product reviews from Wired, which are separated by categories. I took it for a quick spin and found about 15 new products I feel like I can’t live without now. 

Finally, a publication simply titled The Magazine. While it isn’t the most interactive of those listed above, it offers what readers want most — content and lots of it. With The Magazine iPhone app, you get access to all the digital version and new ones when the come out. They are constantly updated to your phone. The Magazine is a Maxim-style magazine, meaning lots of ladies in bikinis, and less real content, but you do get a lot of it for only 99 cents.

If there’s anything to learn from reviewing these magazines’ iPhone apps, it’s that there are a lot of good ideas floating around out there for readers who would like to read their favorite magazines on their iPhone. Overall, I don’t think that any publisher has really hit the nail on the head yet. Where one iPhone magazine excels, it usually fails in another area. Hopefully, with a little development, these will get better with time. For now though, there’s a lot to browse and read, and plenty to test drive.

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Matthew Hendrickson

Matthew Hendrickson is a freelance writer and Editor and Chief of Jettison Quarterly. He lives in Chicago's Pilsen neighborhood and has a degree in journalsim from Columbia College. He has written for the Chicago Journal, The Chicago Reporter, and ChicagoTalks.  His three-part story about lead poisoning rates in Chicago was featured at Propublica.org and IRE.org.

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