Mobile Magazines, Part III — Next Issue

* Note: Click here to read Mobile Magazines, Part I — Google Play Magazines and here for Mobile Magazines, Part II — iOS Newsstand

In the first two parts of TeleRead’s Mobile Magazines series, I’ve written about ways to read individual magazines by subscription. But what about an “all you can read” model?

It was ironic that I learned about Next Issue on Monday, as I was starting this series. An ad for it popped up while I was reading my morning news on Flipboard. Serendipitous, eh? Being a big fan of the Netflix model, I decided to try it out.

It works like this:

For $9.99 a month or $14.99 a month, you get access to a pool of magazines. You can read as many of them as you like, including back issues. They aren’t as clear as I’d like on the difference between the two price points, but I think the lower price gets you just monthly issues while the higher price gives you access to weekly magazines, like Time or People. It’s confusing because when you look at the complete list of magazines, it doesn’t specify which are available on which plan.

There are currently 80 magazines available, and the selection is decent. There are publications from Condé Nast, Hearst, Meredith, News Corp. and Time Inc. This gives a cross-section of entertainment, health, fitness, home décor and lifestyle. If you regularly read the publications they offer, this could be an excellent deal for you. They offer a 30-day free trial (of either package) so you can see if you read enough to make it worthwhile.

How are the apps and the reading experience? The reviews in Google Play are pretty bad. Lots of people seem to experience crashes and slow download speeds. I haven’t had the app crash yet, but yes, the download speed is slow, on both platforms. I downloaded Wired to my iPad, and it seemed to be finished. I opened it up, turned one page and saw this:

It downloaded for about a minute, and then I was able to read. I’ve not had similar issues with either Newsstand or Google Play Magazines. Sure, they take a while to load, especially the image-heavy issues, but you always know when they’re done and ready to read.

Reviews on the iTunes Store are generally better, so I’m guessing the iOS app is more stable; 30 days should be plenty of time to evaluate.

The reading experience is comparable to the other apps I’ve written about. Page turning was smooth. Layout was similar to the other apps. Still no article view, but I’ve kind of given up on wanting that by now. Both versions of the app gives you options to limit the number of issues stored on your device. The iOS version allows you to specify a number of issues. The Android app allows you to specify a percentage of your storage. Either should work.

Speaking of limitations, you do need to know about this paragraph in their Terms of Service:

You shall not download any Publication to more than 5 devices or more than 10 times in total (regardless of the number of devices). Company retains the right, but not the obligation, to monitor the Service to determine compliance with these Terms of Use, including without limitation the number of downloads, and any operating rules established by Company, and to satisfy any law, regulation or authorized government request.

If you plan to share a subscription with a large family, this might be a problem for you. However, I don’t find their limitation unreasonable.

I like the Next Issue concept. Unfortunately for me, their selection is too limited. These aren’t my types of magazine. But if you like what they have and read four or five of their publications a month, it’s an excellent value.

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Next up in the Mobile Magazines series: A quick round-up of publications on e-readers.

2 Comments on Mobile Magazines, Part III — Next Issue

  1. I’ve been trying to use the NextIssue app for a little over a year now. My experience has been limited. I originally looked at them because they were the only option for reading The New Yorker on an android tablet (there is an ipad app and a kindle fire app, but no other option for other androids). If you subscribe, read the fine print carefully–they have a lot of magazines, but many of those magazines are only available for a limited set of platforms (ipad has the best coverage), or screen resolutions. Last March when I first looked, The New Yorker was specifically only available for tablets with a 1024×600 resolution, so it wouldn’t work on my Sony S tablet. I did however have a lenovo S10-3t convertible netbook running android at 1024×600, and was able to get The New Yorker to load on that. I downloaded an issue and read it (more on the reading experience later). I then set it aside for a busy month.
    A month later when I got back to it, I subscribed to just the New Yorker, but after I subscribed I found to my surprise that the upgraded NextIssue app no longer allowed me to read that magazine. Despite meeting the requirements of being android and having a 1024×600 screen, my s10-3t was no longer a supported platform. After some back and forth with tech support they credited me for the subscription.
    A few weeks ago I checked out NextIssue again and found that the New Yorker could now be read on the Sony S–but many magazines are still not available.
    Reading The New Yorker with NextIssue is–odd. I read several other magazines from Zino and Nook Newstand, and the experience is somewhat standard: you get the entire printed page, which you can zoom and pan, and some magazines have a special mode that displays just the text of an article with control over the font/size/background color. With The New Yorker however, all pages are pre-formated to a fixed size. You can’t zoom. For advertisement pages you get the full page image as it appears in the print edition, but forget about zooming to see image detail or fine print. You swipe left/right to turn pages between images and articles, but each article is it’s own long page, that you have to swipe up and down to read. The text size is big enough to be readable, but also big enough to border on annoying.
    I don’t know how they present other magazines, but with the limitations on availablilty it’s not a service I plan on subscribing to.

  2. @Ed, thanks for your comments. I didn’t try New Yorker. The various ones I tried were formatted basically the same as Newsstand. I did download a copy of New Yorker on my Nexus 7, and it behaved exactly as you describe. I found the text size to be just about right for my eyes, though.

    Wired works similarly, with a left/right swipe to move between issues but up/down scrolling to read each article. I’m guessing it’s a publisher thing since both are published by Conde Nast.

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