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Direct feed: Wired's iPad edition

The saviour of print journalism?

Dark blue icons of video game controllers on a light blue background
Image credit: Eurogamer

US technology magazine Wired has released a brand new digital edition for iPad owners and we have video of the first edition.

This technically has very little to do with videogames (although, like videogames, Wired is also pretty awesome), but after the big response to Digital Foundry vs. iPad, cataloguing our experiences with the new tablet, we thought you might enjoy this extra tidbit.

The downloadable edition combines traditional magazine layout with several multimedia showcases, including an exclusive, rather tasty HD clip from the forthcoming Toy Story 3, complementing a cover story about the inner workings of Pixar.

In creating a more interactive magazine, Wired featured clickable box-outs, pop-up movies and even 3D rendered artwork, navigated by touch. Even some of the advertisements feature enhanced elements from a basic website link through to embedded video.

Similar to most print magazines, the barebones of the Wired digital edition is designed using Adobe InDesign. However, it appears that the designers have individually laid out every page twice in order to accommodate the shifting screen orientation of the iPad.

Examination of the iTunes download reveals that each page consists of two lossless PNG files - one each for vertical and horizontal viewing on Apple's Tablet. The magazine is then compiled into an app using the Adobe Digital Publishing Platform.

So, how does the app look in motion? Behold:

The future of magazines? The digital edition of Wired is not without its minus points, but it's an impressive showcase for a medium rife with potential. Obviously we've added the music, and any tearing you might see in the video is courtesy of Flash as opposed to the app itself.

It's difficult to see how the tablet concept will change the print game that much - but as a way of getting the magazine quickly and conveniently into the hands of a worldwide audience, cutting down on dead trees, and offering some nice multimedia enhancements, the concept clearly works.

However, there are some negatives. At $5 an issue, the download can be hugely more expensive than some of the US subscription deals, and the ever-present ads seem out of place in a premium-priced download.

There are also question marks about the ability to collect and access these issues in a convenient manner: at 500MB a pop, clearly they can't all reside on an internal 16GB flash drive, so some kind of tool to stream digital mags from a home server, or even the "cloud", would clearly be a more long term solution.

Another potential solution would be a "Lite" edition where movies are streamed in externally and those lossless PNGs are swapped out in favour of high-quality JPEGs.

There's also a very basic DRM issue too. If I buy the print edition I can share it with my friends: not so with the digital version, unless the iPad goes with it. Of course, we're essentially in uncharted territory here, and as the medium matures we can expect more robust, hopefully reader-empowering solutions to most of these problems.

In the meanwhile, the digital Wired is ultra-slick, very pricey, but undoubtedly cool. A bit like the tablet it's running on.

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