Next Issue which intrigued me. It offered a Netflix-esque model where you paid a fixed monthly fee and could access any title on the service. My last tablet magazine experience was Zinio, which I stopped using after some difficulties with the way they automatically renewed subscriptions. Since there was no subscription to deal with here other than a single fixed monthly fee, I wondered if Next Issue would be the app which got me reading magazines again.
And the answer is: no, it is not. With Zinio, I liked the magazines but hated the service. With Next, I liked the service but hated the magazines.
I signed up for a free trial under the $14.99 plan: it included all the magazines in the cheaper $9.99 level, plus People, Us and some other weeklies. I figured since I was in a free trial anyway, I may as well go for the gold! And I must admit, my first impression was very positive. I found the selection comprehensive and found many magazines which interested me. I was eager to start reading.
And…that is where it all fell apart for me. The reading process was just so darned slow. I tried it on both my iPad 2 and my more recently released iPad Mini. The first title I tried was People, which had a lot of video extras (which, by the way, were very well-integrated and slickly done). I thought the slowness might be due to that, so I restarted my iPad, deleted all the People stuff and tried a few different magazines. Same problem. I could go maybe four pages max before the whole thing would go blurry as it tried to reload the next section.
It was a simply unacceptable reading experience. I was prepared for there to be a lag when I first opened a new issue, while it loaded all the content for that one magazine. But I assumed that once the magazine was ready, it would be, well, ready. But it seemed that no matter how much time I gave it to pre-load the issue, it never seemed to be able to keep up with me. I would get a few clear screens, then blurriness, and waiting. And waiting. And waiting.
Maybe I need newer hardware. Maybe they need a smoother app. I don’t know. But I do know that I simply can’t read this way. I have cancelled my free trial, and it’s back to the less-slick but super-speedy RSS feeds for me. Sorry, Next Issue. Maybe I will try again in five more years, when both of us have had some time to upgrade our respective ecosystems.
Editor’s Note: I reviewed Next Issue last year and had exactly the same lag issue Joanna experienced. It seems they haven’t improved it yet.