The British Journal of Photography is launching its iPad app tomorrow – for free, at least for now – and ahead of its launch I got a chance to test drive the Autumn issue. These are my thoughts and initial impressions, having downloaded and played with it for around an hour yesterday on a friend’s iPad.
I am not an iPad user, so I was getting used to the various sweeps, scrolls and swipes required to browse pages, bring up other menus and access specifics articles and images. This meant that it probably took me longer to do everything than a regular iPad user. With this caveat in mind, these are my thoughts.
Firstly, I had problems locating the app to download and ended up on a How to Use screen with lots of instructions. Clicking on the Issues button located in the top navigation bar, I got a sub-menu showing two video clips to download for £0.69. I later found out that I needed to press on the tablet to bring up the menu screen and then when I did, I needed to press the Back button to access a menu with three option one of which took me to the free content. Perhaps the default page that comes up could link directly to this menu, rather than the one with the video clips?
First hurdle cleared. Next, downloading the app. Warning it takes up nearly half a gig of space, well 400MB, so don’t download if you’re mobile and using a SIM card, or you could end up using a lot of your month’s download allowance in one go. It’s better to download from your wi-fi at home.
Once downloaded, the animated front cover portrait of the woman left me intrigued, but also slightly disturbed; the overall effect was a little spooky. Though it took me a while to get used to the scroll action, I soon found I could navigate more easily between sections and the bar showing thumbnails of the pages, though very small and difficult to read, allowed me to jump from section to section and from page to page.
But I did get a little confused, at times, as to what would follow next, sometimes it was clearly an advert, other times, I wasn’t so sure – the online experience of reading and looking involves so much more skimming and making snap judgments about what to stop and read, or look at. Clean design, high-quality content, with an interesting mix of topical features and reports, has left me keen to give the app another go – I didn’t have a chance to do justice to the content, let alone explore the moving image material. An addition, I never reported – why I don’t know, maybe it’s the early onset of Alzeimer’s – but the app did crash three times, so there may be stability issues.
The app was created by Incisive Media’s in-house designers using the Mag+ platform. To watch a video of the of the first issue, visit BJPapp. The app will be available quarterly, exclusively through iTunes, the first issue is available free to download from tomorrow 7 September.
Contents in Issue 1 include:
• Exclusive interviews with celebrated portrait photographer Anton Corbijn and acclaimed German film director Wim Wenders on the relationship between still and motion images
• Five photographers, including Tim Walker and Zed Nelson, discuss their first adventures in filmmaking
• A special report on the role of photojournalism since 9/11
• Q&A with legendary South African photographer David Goldblatt
• A trend report on the new fashion for “character culture”
• Reviews of the latest photography gear, including tests of cameras, software, lighting and accessories.