Monday, July 12, 2010

Popular Mechanics Interactive Edition

The key attributes that will really excite me about a magazine app are whether it encourages exploration and discovery.  Those two characteristics are at the heart of what should distinguish the app from a print magazine.  The app should offer rich content depth that the print product is physically incapable of.  The Popular Mechanics app has some areas that show promise on both the exploration and discovery front, but there's still a lot they could improve upon.

Popular Mechanics is the perfect magazine candidate to offer this sort of content depth, particularly since they cover such a wide range of interesting and emerging technology and science topics.  One of the first novelties you'll notice is a short article on the Red Bull Air Race.  The red bull flight animation is particularly cool. It's a good use of rich content that doesn't feel gratuitous like what you find in some other apps. The earthquake data viz app, otoh, was more disappointing.

Bummer that it doesn't remember where you left off. Each time you exit and restart the app it defaults back to the cover, not the page you last read.

Choppy page-turning is a bit annoying too but I'm hoping that's a v1.0 problem they'll fix soon.

Like the integrated news reader which lets you catch up on pop mechs feed without leaving the app. I wish they'd cache the content though, just like usatoday, nytimes and most new apps -- even when there's nothing new from your last session the screen shows nothing while it fetches all the same articles all over again.

I applaud pop mech on the price too. It seems minor but at $1.99 (confirm) it felt more reasonable than the $4.99 Wired app, which didn't impress me at all. I could see spending $2 for each pop mech issue.

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