Media Magazine

The iPad Lab #18: An App on Wheels!

Posted on the 05 October 2012 by Themarioblog @garciainteract

This is the weekend edition of TheMarioBlog and will be updated as needed.
The next blog post is scheduled for Monday, Oct. 7

The iPad Lab #18: An app on Wheels!

Purchase the book on the iBookstore

iPad Design Lab” trailer on Vimeo.

TAKEAWAY: It’s a new app for Wheels, the automobile weekly magazine published in Dubai, part of the Gulf News magazine division. A chat with editor Amit Benjamin about how his app work is beginning to influence the print edition.

App begins to influence print edition

Take a video tour of the Wheels app here and pay attention to how pop ups and video clips are selected to enhance stories. Notice advertising presentation, too. Video of the Wheels app created and produced by Frank Deville

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Here is a recent cover from the printed edition of Wheels

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Inside spread from the printed edition of Wheels

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Opening screen for the Wheels app

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Plenty of pop ups for the car enthusiast to explore in the Wheels app

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Advertisers like how their ads are treated, as advertorials, in the Wheels app

It is my observation that we are seeing more of what may be described as tablet design emerging in print.

Perhaps it has to do with the fact that designers who work in one platform also continue to work on the other; or maybe it is because gesturing, which is such a key part of tablet design, is such an intuitive mode that we as designers transfer it to see how it plays in print.

Where do I see these manifestations of tablet-inspired design for print?

First, we are seeing more pages with single objects and mini stories that almost lead us to click to see if the object moves.  Example, all of those product and shopping tips that are so often found in magazines for men and women. 

Second, and this is one of the greatest benefits of tablets inspiring print design: many magazines (not yet newspapers!) are abandoning the lazy single captions under photos, and, instead, going for either beefier mini stories under the photos, or, instead, drawing lines or bubbles to highlight various elements seen in the photograph.

A win win situation for readers, and, definitely, more demanding work for editors and designers.

The Wheels example

While in Dubai this week, I made it a point to have a chat with Amit Benjamin, the young and energetic editor of Wheels, a glossy weekly devoted to cars.  Amit is most enthusiastic about the new Wheels app, currently available free from the iTunes store, and already four issues into its run.

While Wheels publishes weekly, the Wheels app appears every five weeks, and it has published four issues so far.

Amit sees great potential for the app to inspire his printed magazine and sees that idea as dominating in the future.

We have a lot of the same readers for the app and the printed edition,“ Amit tells me. “But we do make it a point to produce to distinctively different products. And I have to say that it was your workshop here, Mario, that opened my eyes to what we could do with this app.“

Indeed, while the magazine follows the more traditional automobile magazine fare, the app so far goes for a theme per issue: Great Drives, The Rivals Issue, The Fast Issue.

We would like to migrate some of these ideas to print, the content as well as the presentation,“ Amit says, “but, of course, the app can do a lot of things that print can’t, including videos, pop ups, and more mini stories that help users get more out of the stories and the cars we highlight.“

This is not just about running videos because we can….“

But, says Amit, we decided from the start that we would not just run video after video in the app simply because we can.  Instead, they go for two good, meaningful and necessary videos, but incorporate a lot of pop ups, and 360-degree views, which, for car aficionados, always offers something good and extra.

Amit walks me thru the planning of each app, a process that he conducts with John Gomez, a designer in his team. Together, they conceptualize the content in the issue, what the visuals will be, and what stories will have the pop up moments, for example.

The advertisers are liking what they see in the Wheels app, says Adam ,and they are coming to us with their own ideas.  So far, says Amit, we are doing extremely well with a type of advertorial where advertisers present their products with a lot of useful information to the readers.

I asked Amit about the generating of content for the app.

We are really going thru our archives and digging content that is useful, still timely and that gains a new life with what the tablet can do for it,“ he said.

While the first two issues of Wheels were only available in the vertical reading mode, it became obvious to the team that the content of the magazine was more suitable for horizontal reading mode, which is how the app has appeared in its last two editions.

You can download Wheels here:

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1st Middle East News Design Conference

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It promises to be a great program, and a historic one, too: the first SND Middle East gathering. Put it on your calendars: November 8 & 9, in Beirut, Lebanon. Sponsored by An-Nahar and SND.

For more information:

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