The problem with magazines on the iPad

Peter Kafka writes about the problems with bulky magazine apps:

The Wired iPad app has a weight problem.

The first one came in at about half a gigabyte of memory, and it hasn’t shrunk that much since.

And Condé Nast’s newest iPad app, from the New Yorker, isn’t much better: It takes up 173 megabytes–but that’s for a weekly issue. If Condé can’t slim the app down, a month’s worth of New Yorkers will be much heavier than the first monthly Wired app.

Appears that this weight problem is down to their use of some horrible image-based reader software:

Both the New Yorker and Wired have the same weight problem for the same reason: They are built on the back of an Adobe (ADBE) program that essentially functions as an image reader.

That is, each page of the magazine is turned into the equivalent of several big photos. Which means an image-rich layout at Wired or a page of text at the New Yorker both consume a lot of memory.

Aside from the horribly inappropriate use of technology (displaying text as images is just dumb and inefficient), this is a horrible accessibility problem: it means that these magazine apps are pretty much unusable for many disabled users.

Once Adobe figures out how to break up HTML text into individual pages, McCarthy will make the switch, she says. Perhaps in a month.

There’s really no need to use HTML. And there’s really no need to have to compromise and use text scrolling. There’s a technology which allows for portable reading of rich media content, whilst maintaining precision layouts, and even maintains accessibility. It’s been around for a while.

It’s called PDF. It’s an open format, and it was created by Adobe. Duh.

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