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Apps review: Wired, FT and Time Add to ...

The iPad has been hyped as a device that's meant to rejuvenate "old" media. With that in mind, Iain Marlow, the Globe's telecom reporter gives his top three "old" media apps.

  • Here are globeandmail.com editor Kenny Yum's picks:
  • Here are Mobile Editor Matt Frehner's picks:
  • Here are Technology Reporter Omar El Akkad's picks:

Click here for a link to the app on iTunes

Choosing Wired magazine's slick new app is almost too easy. The (excellent) magazine for everything geeky and tech-related knows full well that its readership will both be among the early adopters of tablet computers and are critically aware of new technologies (such as apps) - which means they know they will profit from an amazing app, and know that they must ensure that their app is amazing in order to profit from it. The result is a super pleasurable magazine app that is intuitive and beautiful.

It's still print-centric (which I don't necessarily think is a flaw in old media apps), so you flip pages by sliding your finger across the screen horizontally. But it also innovates on the older print form. For example, in a snappy article called "Riverboat Resurrection" about a refrigerator repairman becoming a sunken wreck salvager, the photograph can be changed by selecting from a small menu screen, allowing more content without destroying the designer's layout. Simple, but intuitive, pleasureable and a clear advantage over the printed magazine.

There have been some criticisms that it mimics print way too closely. But this is simply the first wave of old media apps, for just one tablet. App developers are just getting started on this type of thing.

Click here for a link to the app on iTunes

The Financial Times is likely the world's best newspaper. It's clearly written, informative, often breaks news and enjoys incredible access to the upper echelons of global power. But in print, it has the span of an albatross, making it impossible to wield except perhaps as a weapon.

Online, its website is so horrendous and out of step with the quality of its content as to be mystifying on a how-do-they-get-the-caramel-in-the-Caramilk-bar level. This doesn't usually bother me, because I read the paper almost exclusively on the weekend, on patios (with a cold pint); and almost never visit the website.

However, the FT's new iPad app (which is free to download but to read the content you'll need an annual subscription -- 171.08 pounds) combines the best elements of the paper - the pared down display, the writing, the analysis, the sense that you're reading something authoritative - with none of the terrible elements of the website. Though like the website, the app makes a hugely deliberate attempt to mimic the layout look of the printed product.

This all means that app is easily navigable, looks great and reads well. It's also fast and videos pop up really simply.

Click here for a link to the app on iTunes

I love this one but I'm still torn on it. Anyone who reads Time Magazine in print (cricket... cricket...) will know the magazine has lone experimented with interesting visual ways to display information about the events that define our age (Verbatim, 10 Questions, etc.).

Unfortunately, this admirable foray was accomplished partially at the expense of quality content and great written journalism - though the photography has remained top notch. The magazine's new app is a reminder that this era of journalism is about more than just fantastic long form reporting; it is about curating an innovative package of graphics, photography, layout and, yes, high quality text, that keeps a reader engaged in a time where most of us are drowning in boringly displayed information.

At $4.99 per digital issue, the app unfortunately imports an old pay model (pay this much, get this issue) that literally screams old media, though a digital subscriber model is on the way. That said, the iPad is a perfect display case for Time's photography, quirky, visual style, and tersely poignant commentary, even if adhering to the tablet's conventions may eventually reinforce the type of unseriousness that old school journalists have grown to hate about Time.

Undeniably, though, flipping through it is fun and engrossing. The text is easily manipulated, which is great for people who frantically clicks on and resizes text as they read online, like I do. Photographs look especially beautiful, particularly with the slideshow feature.

Follow on Twitter: @iainmarlow

 

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