I’ve had a little over a week to look over the new iOS on my iPad. Not surprisingly, I am using the Newsstand app more than any of the other new features (although we had a really fun time on Friday locating a colleague’s iPhone on the new iCloud – turns out, it was in her bag the whole time). Newsstand is a feature that has been a long time coming, and as such, it was probably at least slightly over-hyped.
Since we’re working on a magazine project this quarter, I am a big fan of the background downloading. Prior to the new OS, it would often take me 10 minutes or more to download each new issue of each magazine. Now, they download as they become available, without needing to have the app open. For anyone who was using magazine apps before the change, this feature seems intuitive and easy to use. I do wish, however, that the Newsstand app had it’s own settings that over-rode the individual app settings. That way, I wouldn’t have to opt-in to every app’s background download.
CNET’s Scott Stein agrees. “Newsstand was one of the iOS 5 features that I’d been long awaiting, because I dreamed it would be a way of integrating books, periodicals, and all reading material into one destination. Alas, that’s not the case here.”
He argues that the ideal location for his Newsstand apps would be inside of the iBooks app, so that he could keep all of his reading together.
I was also hoping that Newsstand would make it easy to manage my subscriptions. I have subscribed to a number of magazines on the iPad for which I do not have print subscriptions. For some of these subscriptions, I chose a monthly fee, because I needed the magazine only for this quarter while I worked on the project, or because I wasn’t sure I would enjoy the magazine. For some subscriptions, I chose the yearly subscription, knowing I would want to read the magazine long after the project. Still other magazines are single issue downloads. I was really hoping that the Newsstand would allow me to easily see this information, but I still have to log in to my iTunes account to figure this out.
Gizmodo, on the other hand, finds Newsstand “more awesome than it seems.” The tech news site loved how the app allows them to see the covers of the issues instead of a generic app icon. It is easier to know if new issues are available.
I wish that all of my magazine apps were supported in the Newsstand. Currently, I have several other magazines in various groupings on multiple pages. Before the new OS update, all of my magazines were grouped together, which I found exceedingly convenient, and I’ll have to wait until that can happen again before I can truly evaluate the system.