I have to start with a confession. I think the iPhone display (yes even the 4 inch iPhone 5 display) is too small for graphically rich magazines. With that said, I was curious about all the fuss my colleagues were making over the newly released National Geographic Magazine for both iPad AND iPhone. I decided to take a look and buy one issue (you download the App for free and either buy single issues or a subscription if you don’t already have one). I must say that I found that they really did a good job making it easy to enjoy the text of the articles as well as the photos. They didn’t fall into the common “design hole”! In stead of trying to take a large magazine page and size it down to a smaller iPhone size, they redesigned the experience completely. When I tapped to read the “Sailing the Dunes” article, there was ONE picture at the top and the rest was simply the text of the article. However, this is after all National Geographic. They are known for beautiful imagery. At this point I noticed at the very top right of the interface and there are two buttons “READ” and “LOOK”. When you’re ready to look at all the pretty sand dune pics you tap “LOOK” and you get several slideshows to choose from. Brilliant! Don’t try to squeeze a normal size magazine page down and make a pinching, zooming, scrolling nightmare. Instead rethink the experience and medium in hand. Also keep in mind that this is a Universal App. So if you do have an iPad, you’ll enjoy it in all the iPad’s display size glory.
Great, but not perfect
The one thing that I do have to ding National Geographic on was that this App is not sized for the 4″ iPhone 5 screen yet. It would be even nicer if it filled my screen from top to bottom. The only other thing I’d like to see is at least one “free” issue. Get people hooked with the free sample!