A Critical Look at the New Wired iPad App

A Critical Look at the New Wired iPad App I ordered my iPad last week, but there's now a minimum wait of 10 business days before it shows up on my doorstep. So I'm spending my time reading everything I can about the new apps that I can't play with yet, and getting ready for Mario Garcia's The Power of Tablets seminar at the Poynter Institute on June 14.

Over at Information Architecture, web designer Oliver Reichenstein has a beef with the new Wired iPad app, and lays out his critique in granular detail. His focus in on the format grid and typography, and he comes down hard on the overall product: "The future of journalism is definitely not a stack of banners spiced with videos, exported from a paper layout program." He also makes room for responses from typographer Jonathan Hoefler and New York Times Online creative director Khoi Vinh. It's a pointed, provocative post that is essential reading.

Meanwhile, over at Mario Garcia's blog, they're running a daily post with lots of links and examples of iPad design and apps. It's a run up for The Power of Tablets seminar, but there's deep learning for all regardless of whether or not you're attending.

(Above): A look at the in-depth approach Information Architecture brings to its critique of the Wired iPad app.
Thanks to Magtastic Blogsplosion for the Information Architecture story.

Here's Adobe's video on the Wired app:

See related stories:
Apple iPad: It's Real--includes video prototypes from Wired & Interview

  • Erik Spooner

    As designers, we need to re-invent magazines for this new technology, rather than just re-format them.

    I could not agree more, Josh.

  • Josh Klenert

    You bring up an interesting point. Who knows where the iPad will be in 5 years.

    A short nine years ago Apple released the first iPod. It was a brick with a 1970's style B&W screen 5 GB hard drive that put "1,000 songs in your pocket." It cost $400 and took Apple till Q4 2004 to sell 2 Million units. There is now a 8GB iPod nano with a color screen and a video camera in it that about 1/3 of the size. Apple sold 2M iPad is 2 MONTHS.

    I got to experience my first 55" (incredibly thin) 3D TV this past week. Technology is blazing ahead at an amazingly fast clip. Who knows where the iPad will be in 5 years. It could have a video camera, holograms and make cole slaw. As designers, we need to re-invent magazines for this new technology, rather than just re-format them.

  • Erik Spooner

    That last link got messed up somehow folks, sorry. Here it is:


  • Erik Spooner

    Robert--this is fantastic. Hepworth hits the nail on the head, as far as I'm concerned, with the problem at large. Probably a different post altogether, but great material!

    As to your points, Michael, few quick thoughts.

    The interaction issues are not my area of expertise, and more over not particularly my interest. But they are relevant to this conversation in understanding how we work with the media. Having an understanding of the basic problems allow me as a designer and design manager to understand how my team should thinking about the choices it makes in solving them so that we come up with great functional solutions that also look good (back to my original critique: fuzzy type just doesn't solve any problems, for me). I think Oliver Reichenstein was simply making the same argument. It's a holistic issue, but for the purposes of my point, I'm focusing only on the type. Specific apps aside, it is an issue we all face as our content moves onto new media. David Hepworth's point is not lost in this; is the future really as simple as make iPad magazines like paper magazines? (and more importantly, What is a magazine?)

    I won't refute that Apple has indeed captured tremendous numbers of users in the weeks since the iPad went on sale. But they are hardly alone. There are at least two dozen other products and at least half a dozen other serious competitors. Moreover, even assuming next year Apple doesn't chose to revise their design, at some point, the 1024x768 screen will be bumped up as newer, better, higher-res screens come online in the production process at the same cost. Look at the three year evolution of iPhone. Next week we'll apparently be on the fourth major overhaul, and it appears to include a much higher res screen, coming awfully close to the iPad's.

    We must keep in mind that if we chose to design cross media that such things as measuring units are often off the table. A 9-inch 1024x768 screen and a 9-inch 1280x960 screen are worlds of difference in resolution. As I think is clearly explained previously, this definitely matters. It is therefore important to understand when making typographic choices what the implications are for output, just as I know I get finer shadows and better fine-line type rendering on my cover forms than my interior forms on press because of the difference in my 133-lpi on the cover versus my 85-lpi screens used to print the inside. The fundamentals of DPI, LPI, SPI and PPI are all in play here. They are not the same. I once had an art director who insisted that designing for a webpage required a new quark doc using 10.5 x 8.3 inch pages. She was certainly on the right track about proportion, but this is exactly what was wrong with the early days of web design.

    Perhaps reliance on Adobe, Apple, Quark, etc., to solve many of these mental quandaries of complex formulas, and the pervasiveness of Photoshop in every school in the country has removed us so far from our fundamental media production techniques that we have forgotten what they are. Designing using a screen to make paper products is not the same as designing for a screen, not least of all because of the technical limitations. For all the reasons, including vastly different ideologies for interactive design, I will agree to disagree with you about the iPad being like a book.

  • Robert Newman

    Here's more on the iPad, from the InPublishing site (UK). "If the iPad's the answer, what's the question again?" by David Hepworth, former editorial director of Emap Consumer Magazines and columnist for the Guardian. His comments are less about technology and design and more about the approach that magazine content should take on the iPad. It's a good read: http://www.inpublishing.co.uk/kb/articles/if_the_ipads_the_answer_whats_the_question_again.aspx

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