Distill magazine has just launched their latest issue exclusively as an iPhone and iPod Touch application. Developed by London’s ustwo, and packaged in a wonderful and easy to use interface, Distill app is stylish and robust magazine reader showcasing best in photography and design from the international style and fashion press.
When you first start the app you are greeted with introduction, informing you of the navigation, special features and that each shot has added commentary by V&A Curator Susanna Brown and photographer Ben Dunbar-Brunton. The next swiped screen is the Editorial Board, listing many names of some you should already be familiar with. Then, the sections are divided into menswear, womenswear, accessories, streetwear and visual arts. Each section from then on divided into “covers” acting like subsections or mini magazines offering some truly stunning photography. Interestingly, the interface goes beyond just the swipe to move onto the next image. There are images, in landscape, that span across double pages/spreads so you have to pan across them slowly rather than just swipe to fully appreciate. You can of course view these in landscape view with a simple click so the original concept of “double spread” is really nicely translated. The navigation repeats throughout the app and tapping on any of the shots brings up two buttons; Inspiration and Credits. Inspiration is the curators view and credits is what you would expect in a fashion mag, ie what the person is wearing etc. All of this somehow feels very unobtrusive and each click is optional allowing you to focus only on what you interested.
What is very interesting is that a whole section, or a cover, has been taken out. This is the same cover demoed in the video below that shows nudity. Kind of understandable and most probably done at request of Apple, it does raise question in regards to what is considered artistic photography/fashion and what is pornography. Apple sure be mature enough to be able to tell the difference which in this case should of course be allowed with appropriate rating, in this instance 17+ but the app has been rated 4+ (at the request of publisher??). Nevertheless, flesh or no flesh the app is a wonderful collection of some very inspiring photography and style.
Ustwo have done a magnificent job. Of course, this is not without the direction from Craft Publishing, the team behind the Distill magazine. It is great to see publishers slowly adopting iPhone as a platform other than just in Japan. I was already quite impressed by Courrier International, Japan based magazine similar to ‘The Week’ – an aggregated digest of newspaper columns. The next step, I suppose, would be in-app purchases for issues or even a new system implemented by Apple of subscriptions similar to Amazon’s kindle already adopted in iTunes’ podcasts.
How long before iPhone becomes as widespread as the ability to walk into a shop and purchase the magazine off the shelf? If anything, publishers should be re-establishing their brands in the digital sphere by providing content that may not be necessarily charged for. The unfortunate thing is that for large publishers these steps are scary making them fearful of whether their current advertisers will adopt the platform. It is not just the question of approaching them all with new proposals but rebuilding the whole publishing system and re-establishing ties with new advertisers that are more likely to adopt the digital distribution quicker. The steps towards this do not have to be major. Covering things such as events, launches and reports in the form of iPhone apps should provide publishes a strong base to build on that when it comes to the final distribution of their bread and butter content.
Unfortunately, it is (as always) small independent publishers are paving the way for the big fat cats. Magazines such as Distill see it as another opportunity not only to reach their existing audience but also address and inspire the new. We have downloaded the app and enjoyed it immensely. Was it pricey, sure, will we do it again, definitely. It is unfortunate that majority of iPhone developers value their apps at $0.99 in hope to reach the top 100 position. Being able to price the app reasonably allows you to use the earned funds to promote it. Carefully selected content and wonderful editorial will always attract the readers. I wish Distill all the success.
Developer: Craft London
Posted on: 14/11/2009
Posted in: iPhone