OK … a small bit of disclosure right off the bat on this one: I am not black and nobody’s ever accused me of being enterprising.
I am a big follower of leading print newspaper and magazine titles coming to the iPad though. I find it fascinating to see which titles really bring something fresh to the iPad, which ones are truly embracing this new medium, and many of my favorite iPad apps are in this category.
When I saw that the iPad edition of Black Enterprise Wealth for Life promised several new and compelling features for an iPad magazine, I was keen to take a look at it. I’ve spent a lot of time with the app and I’m very impressed. Hit the break for a few of my reasons why and lots of screenshots …
About Black Enterprise
Here’s a little bit of an Intro to the app, courtesy of its App Store description and the initial press release on it:
The BLACK ENTERPRISE app features our exclusive Wealth for Life content to help you gain financial security, advance in your career, or be your own boss. Get the complete issue of the magazine plus streaming video, slideshows, and much more in an interactive experience. You can even take notes, bookmark stories, and share with your friends.
This dynamic, digital environment is customized to meet readers’ business, finance and career resource-needs. The app, a first among African-American publishers, enhances the iPad user-experience with unprecedented content-customization features. At launch, BE App’d is free and provides complimentary July and August Black Enterprise issues, courtesy of an exclusive sponsorship with leading automobile makers, Toyota.
The Right Approach
As soon as you spend a few minutes with Black Enterprise, it’s clear that the team behind it has strived to create a real iPad edition, not just a thrown-together ‘digital version’ or a rehashing of their online site.
The iPad can surf the web, so the BE app doesn’t recreate and charge for content a user could get on the web within the confines of the app. It zeroes in on the BE user, giving them more ways to make the content work for them and unique opportunities to create community around the content, which outweighs what could be done on a web page.
You get two free issues to start off with – July and the special 40th Anniversary August issue – thanks to an initial sponsorship deal with Toyota.
The starting point for any quality magazine title on the iPad, just as on any medium, is good content. Black Enterprise delivers in this area, with a wealth (ha – that didn’t start out as a pun) of good articles that support the overall mission of ‘wealth for life’.
When I first thought about looking at the app I was a little intimidated by the ‘enterprise’ portion of the name – imagining that a lot of the focus would be on topics that only matter to those who are involved in (or aspiring to be) Fortune 500 companies and the like. Happily, I‘ve found that’s not the case at all. It is full of good and approachable content even for those of us who aren’t involved in major enterprises – especially in areas like personal finance and career development.
It’s no use having lots of good content if it’s not easy to find it, browse for more, and enjoy reading all of it. This is a magazine title after all. Black Enterprise provides a user interface that presents its content well, draws the reader in, and makes it simple to navigate round each issue and enjoy all the parts that interest you. Here are some of its notable niceties:
For those who may be new to the iPad reading experience, it offers a great How To section that helps them get to know their way around – via both illustrated pages and videos …
The standard iPad method of swiping left and right to move between articles, and up and down to move through pages of an individual articles is used, and multi-page articles show you page dots at the bottom right to indicate how many pages there are …
You’re offered various ways to navigate through the app. You can simply swipe your way through as if reading a print magazine, pull up a Contents list with just a couple taps, use the Browser tool to scroll through pages Coverflow style, or use the slick Browser / All view to browse content broken out by type.
Main content sections are color-coded (to match the print edition) in the bottom nav bar …
Tapping on any of these sections brings up a popover with a shortlist of its contents …
Here’s the Browser bar, where you can choose which type of content you want to browse through – All, Pages, Bookmarks, Photos, Videos, and even Ads …
And here’s how it looks when you choose to view All …
Great New Features
Black Enterprise has some excellent new features that really make the most of the iPad – including some I just haven’t seen in any other iPad magazine or newspaper title before. A few of these are features that I’ve been eagerly waiting to see in an iPad magazine, and it’s great to see them implemented and executed well in BE.
These notable new features include …
Search! – This seems an obvious one when you say it, but I just haven’t seen it in any other leading titles for the iPad – and it’s very good to see it here. This is a feature that is a classic example of what separates an iPad edition from a print edition – the ability to say ‘Hey, I could’ve sworn I saw a good article on XYZ listed’ and then go and find it via the search function.
Notes – Another first for Black Enterprise, and another sight for sore eyes in an iPad magazine …
You have to create a reader account in order to use these features – but it is a quick and painless process to do this. The concept of reader accounts also seems a sort of win-win-win for readers, Black Enterprise, and advertisers, who can see how engaged the app’s readers are.
Bookmarks – for articles you want to be able to come back to quickly …
Sharing – you can share the app’s content via email, Twitter and Facebook …
A Couple Bits that Need Improvement
The app also has some places where it needs improvement. One big miss at the moment is that it does not remember where you were when you exit it and come back in – so you have to tap to choose the issue you want to go into and then work your way back to whatever page you were on.
Downloads have been very slow in my experience with the app – taking as long as 7-9 minutes even when on a strong WiFi connection. While downloading an issue the app does not offer a status bar or any indication of progress / time remaining.
Both of the above items are real basics. Hopefully these will be fixed / improved in an update release of the app.
Black Enterprise is one of the very best iPad editions of any leading magazine I’ve seen so far. It is one of the few blue-chip titles that appear to have fully embraced the new medium and it offers some unique and powerful features that make it easy for readers to get heavily engaged with it.
I’ve found it a pleasure to read and browse through – and that’s despite the fact that I can barely spell finance and it’s not a title I would pick up on a newsstand (only because my reading tastes tend towards techie and geeky subjects).
It also has a nice sort of ‘back story’ to it right about now, with the August issue marking its 40th anniversary. It’s great to see that it’s a family business as well – with the founder’s son now building on its strong history and enthusiastically bringing it to new platforms like the iPad.
Despite my un-enterprising nature, this app is a definite keeper for me – and I look forward to seeing how the publishers will continue to innovate with their iPad edition.
You can find Black Enterprise in the App Store now, and it’s a free app.