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Is Next Issue Magazine App For iPad Worth It?

Is Next Issue Magazine App For iPad Worth It?

August 2, 2012
Early last month, iPad owners were introduced to a new magazine service, Next Issue. For as little as $9.99 per month, readers get unlimited access to some of best magazines available today, including current and past issues. Now with my 30-day free trial almost over, the time has come to decide whether to cancel my monthly subscription or keep it going forward. Here’s what I’ve decided and why.

A review

As I reported previously, Next Issue offers subscribers access to 39 magazine titles, including GQ, Wired, and Fortune. There are two packages available: Basic and Premium. With the $9.99 Unlimited Basic membership, you’ll have unlimited access to 34 of some of the most popular magazines today. These include Esquire, Real Simple, Popular Mechanics, and others. Each of these are monthly or biweekly titles. The Unlimited Premium package, priced at $14.99, offers five additional magazine titles not available on the Basic plan, including Entertainment Weekly, People, Sports Illustrated, The New Yorker, and Time. Each of these are weeklies. For a complete list of current magazines available, visit the Next Issue website. Regardless of your membership, each magazine is custom-designed for the tablet experience and includes enhancements such as videos, bonus photography, interactive features, and links to more information on the Web. You must start your membership on the Next Issue website, since they’re not using Apple’s billing system, nor Newsstand. Once this process is complete, everything else is done on the iPad app, including the selecting of magazines you’d like to subscribe to. Once you’ve subscribed, a list of each issue available shows up on Next Issue’s main screen. This list, which includes a cover photograph of each issue, may be sorted by date, title, new, last opened, and downloaded. To download an issue to your iPad, you must click on it. For magazines that have not yet been downloaded, the app instantly begins downloading individual pages the moment you tap on the cover, so the magazine can be opened quickly. When enough of the magazine has been downloaded, it will automatically open. Once inside, if you jump to a page while the magazine is still downloading, the page will be prioritized and immediately downloaded before any other pages. As the page is being downloaded, you will see a page thumbnail and the article title indicating what you are about to see. In addition, you can setup automatic downloads by magazine. However, this functionality only works when Next Issue is opened, and not in the background. This feature, which I have found useful, will not work over a 3G connection, and only works with new issues. In other words, if you click on the auto download icon, you won’t be downloading every issue available, but rather only the most recent one available. Naturally, this is a good thing given that many providers are now charging for Wi-Fi overages. With your membership, you’ll have access to all previous issues, regardless of title, back to January 2012. You may also subscribe to one or more individual magazines or buy single issues. Monthly subscriptions range from $1.99 to $9.99. Additionally, existing print subscribers can add digital for free or at a discounted price, depending on the title.

The good

For the past month, I have subscribed to seven magazines with my Unlimited Premium plan. These include: People, Sports Illustrated, The New Yorker, Time, Entertainment Weekly, GQ, and Wired. Next Issue’s most exciting features are the use of a carousel to move through magazine pages, its storage management options, and pinning. The carousel, which will remind many of Apple's Cover Flow technology, makes navigating between pages a breeze. In particular, I’m impressed with carousel’s use of keywords, and other information about each page. This makes it quicker to find the content you’re most interested in seeing. Through the app’s storage management system, users can set the number of magazines they want the app to hold. This way, you don’t have to worry about running out of space because of large magazine files. There are five different settings: 12, 24, 48, or 72 magazines, or “No Maximum.” Once you reach your maximum, Next Issue will automatically delete the “earliest read” content first. However, these issues can be downloaded again. Finally, pinning allows you to “pin” those issues you don’t want to lose. As such, these issues aren’t affected by your storage limitations. I also consider Next Issue’s future plans as a “good” reason to keep my subscription valid. Among other goodies, the number of magazines is expected to grow in the next few months. Additionally, you will soon be able to share your reading experience with family and friends.

The bad

Next Issue offers all the content I want at price points I find reasonable. Still, it requires a commitment. If you are an avid reader, Next Issue is a no-brainer. Not only does it provide a lot of content at a great price, but it also delivers each issue in a timely manner. And yet, if you only want to read a handful of magazines each month, a better choice might be had elsewhere, for example, through Zinio. Another concern has to do with the new iPad and its Retina display. In its current form, Next Issue only provides issues in standard resolution. Like I said previously, this could be a quick deal breaker for new iPad owners. However, this limitation should be removed before the end of the year. Finally, Next Issue requires a speedy Wi-Fi connection to download new issues. As they suggest:
As with most rich digital media, you need a good Wi-Fi connection to enjoy all the features of the Next Issue app.
In other words, if your connection is something you’d describe as less than desirable, this app isn’t for you.

The verdict

I read a lot of magazines each month. In particular, I’m a magazine hound during the coldest months, and whenever I’m away from home for work or pleasure. For me, $14.99 is a great price to have access to 39 different magazines, including their current and back issues. In fact, much like Apple’s iBookstore made me read more books, the same can be said for Next Issue and magazines. Without this opportunity, I would have never subscribed to some of the magazines that I now read weekly, all thanks to the folks at Next Issue. Therefore, I’m sticking with Next Issue for the long haul. For new users, visit the Next Issue website to register for your 30-day free trial. Not your thing? Be sure to check out our report, The Best Newsstand Magazine Apps For iPad.

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