PROJECT Magazine for iPad has always proclaimed itself to be right at the leading edge of iPad publications. In sports parlance, it has always talked a very big talk. And for me, it has mostly failed to walk the walk. I’ve stuck with the magazine (on and off, not purchasing every issue) through seven issues, and now I’m done with it. I’ve found it disappointing in too many ways, and I’ve also found it continues to fail to live up to its own big promises.
Here are the main three strikes I have against Project Magazine:
1) When it launched it promised not to be a static monthly title, like a print issue. It was a ‘created for the iPad’ title that specifically touted itself thusly:
PROJECT is a monthly magazine that will change daily, hourly – minute by minute at times – to give its global audience of early adopters a month of entertainment for less than the price of a decent cup of coffee.
This has never happened at all with Project. It is a static monthly title, with no major content updates at all between monthly issue releases. It has never even come close to living up to those words.
2. Project is not only the only magazine title, but the only app of any kind, that I have seen use iOS notifications to hit you with crappy promotional messages, like this one:
The screencap above shows an actual iOS alert from Project – prompting me to email them to enter a contest to win iTunes vouchers by guessing what’s in David Schwimmer’s pocket in whichever issue of the magazine. I don’t care what’s in his pocket, and I definitely don’t care to have notifications used for that sort of junk mail type content. That is not at all what iOS notifications are intended for, and again Project’s publishers are the first I’ve seen in the App Store that have been dumb enough to use them this way.
3. The publishers have hyped up Issue 7, that features a ‘design and navigation refresh’ of the magazine heavily. Just a few examples of this from a recent promo email I received from them:
Not wishing to blow our digital trumpet, but the new issue is genuinely the best yet …
You see, when we launched PROJECT last December, iPad magazines were in their babbling infancy. We knew that our bearded owner, Sir Richard Branson, wanted to return to his publishing roots and produce the world’s first purpose-built iPad lifestyle magazine. His brief was terrifyingly simple: to build nothing less than the future of publishing. …
We’re now at the point where, with this issue, we think we’re the closest we’ve ever been to nailing our launch brief: building the future of magazines.
Ok, so I bit one last time and downloaded Issue 7. And the image at the top of this post, the one that shows an almost entirely blank page with the words ‘Please rotate into portrait position’, pretty much sums up my experience with this latest, greatest Project issue. It’s a page I saw repeatedly in browsing my way through Issue 7.
Apparently ‘instinctive navigation’ means little or no support for viewing the magazine in landscape mode. Because in a printed magazine I can’t flip it round and read it landscape right? Oh, but wasn’t this meant to be the future of publishing, the iPad title to show other iPad titles how it’s done? I think any reading-focused app – eBook, magazine, newspaper etc. – that only works I one viewing mode is lame and is not iPad-like at all.
So I’m done with Project Magazine, no more issues for me. Way too much talk, far too little walk, abuse of the notifications system, lame design decisions. Others’ mileage may vary of course, and some may love the title, but this isn’t the future of publishing I want to see, nor is it an iPad magazine I want to read.
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