The Football Pink joins the Apple Newsstand

The Football Pink is a quarterly collection of engrossing stories, opinions and musings from around the world of football and is now available in the Exact Editions webstore and the Apple Newsstand.
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Packed with all the features you’ve come to expect from Exact Editions, the app also incorporates ByPlace™technology, so keep your eyes peeled for exclusive free access!

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Five New Titles!

Exact Editions are delighted to welcome five new titles to our webstore and the Apple Newsstand, all from Progressive Media Group: New StatesmanWorld of Fine WineSpear’sFX and Blueprint.

New-Titles

All apps incorporate the usual Exact Editions features such as in-depth text search, social media sharing and of course the ByPlace™technology.

Head over to the App Store now!

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Magazines need to do some permissionless innovating

Steve Cheney has produced a fascinating essay On the Future of Apple and Google. You need to read it, but the gist of his argument is that the iOS and the Android operating systems are now the only games in town and they are pitched in a deep but asymmetric struggle. Google through Android will be powering most of the clever devices that will now be running our lives (fridges, cars, thermostats), but Apple has a deep axis of control through the highly integrated devices that they manufacture which will end up managing much of our environment. Android is becoming pervasive but Apple is winning at the high end, and even lengthening its lead and building on its dominance.

Although the piece is focussed on the battle between these giants, Google and Apple, it is also clear that nothing can be discounted, a lot will be made possible within and between the ‘tentpoles’ of their operating systems. As Cheney says

All of this innovation is underpinned by software, software that is figuratively eating the world. But to me the most exciting thing in tech today is not whether we’ll all be wearing smart watches a year from now. It’s that innovation will continue accelerating through the golden era of mobile and well beyond, to what none of us can quite see next.

Precisely because Apple and Google are both winning, but each of them moving off in different directions, there is enormous scope for innovation. Cheney coins the term “permissionless innovation”, which means that we don’t need someones permission to introduce an innovation. Just do it. Here are some ways that Exact Editions now drivespermission-less innovation:

  • Make magazine apps free ByPlace
  • Magazines and newspapers can sell subscriptions to institutions (college libraries etc) that want to have access online and through the magazine apps. Yes that works. And a publisher can do this by offering a subscription that provides access through the web, as well as via an app for the publication.
  • Magazine apps can promote a product in a specific geolocation. That is the application can support a ‘call to action’, a logo or an ad that pops up in a specific place
  • Apps can be built for third parties — so that a collection of appropriate magazines and newspapers is available to the travellers on an airline, or the guests of a chain of hotels. At Exact Editions we are now really excited by the potential for magazine apps that serve third parties with a collection of content.

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Resolution Independence is good for magazine apps that look like magazines

Apple made a very clever step change when they announced their new iPhones, the 6 and the 6 Plus. Nobody guessed the screen resolution and the pixel count correctly — though nobody was surprised by the 4.7 and 5.5-inch dimensions of the screens. The reason nobody guessed? Apple introduced a level of abstraction: there is no longer a straightforward equivalence between the pixels that the iOS software manipulates in an image and the pixels which the devices display. Apple introduced a gear change so that the images in the apps are ‘resolution independent’. Developers dont need to get all their design elements scaled in various sizes, the system will take care of this presentational element by ‘upsampling’ or ‘downsampling’ the image which the program is working on. This up/downsampling fits the whole thing on the resolution of the device. Some of this is rather well explained by PaintCode with their Ultimate Guide to Screen Resolutions and in this product demo

This downsampling trick does not solve all life’s problems. Developers still need to think about the requirement that their app will appear on devices with two aspect ratios. The relatively squat aspect ratio 4:3 of the iPad, and the relatively tall and lean aspect ratio of the iPhones 16:9. They also have to take account of the fact that these devices and the apps that sit on them will be swung from portrait to horizontal mode and vice versa, but it looks like that degree of variability may be all that is needed for the immediate future. That makes life a bit simpler!

Making images resolution independent does not at all help those app designers — who have been disappointingly influential in the digital magazine and the digital newspaper business — who insist that apps should be precisely designed for the screen dimensions and the screen resolution of these devices. If the design of your app is purposely resolution dependent there is more work to do. The iPhone version will look blown up on the 6 Plus, and if you design afresh for the 6 Plus, the chances are that your best effort will be cramped on the 5. The page-based designs, which can float into screens with varying sizes and pixel counts, win out. So it is time to think again about the fundamental questions? Do magazines really need to flow? Do newspapers need issues? Will digital content be sold in subscription bundles, or will it be transacted in atomic lumps?

The design of magazine and newspaper apps has a fundamental bearing on the commercial proposition. Apple’s commitment to resolution independence is helping the cause of the virtual newspaper or magazine with its issues, its pages and its edges.

 

Magazines and Apple’s Privacy Policy

Apple updated their Privacy Policy yesterday, it is a big revision. So important that Tim Cook posted a clear summary of their position, which anybody in the digital magazine or digital publishing business needs to digest and understand.

A few years ago, users of Internet services began to realize that when an online service is free, you’re not the customer. You’re the product. But at Apple, we believe a great customer experience shouldn’t come at the expense of your privacy.

Our business model is very straightforward: We sell great products. We don’t build a profile based on your email content or web browsing habits to sell to advertisers. We don’t “monetize” the information you store on your iPhone or in iCloud. And we don’t read your email or your messages to get information to market to you. Our software and services are designed to make our devices better. Plain and simple. A Message from Tim Cook….

These two paragraphs look like a pretty clear dig at companies such as Google and Facebook which harvest enormous amounts of personal data that they then ‘monetize’ primarily through advertising. Apple is setting a clear direction here in defending the user’s data and not abusing the customer’s trust. The detailed policies are clearly expressed and reassuring. There is a good reason for Apple to tighten up and underline its ‘hands off’ approach to user’s data now a week after its announcements on ApplePay, HealthKit and the very intimate new device, the most personal computer ever, the AppleWatch. So this is the big picture. Apple is driving some tent-poles in the ground, some standards for privacy and consumer control of personal data, that other companies will find tough to emulate.

But why should this matter to magazines and publishers generally? The reason is simply that Apple is projecting a standard for what should remain private when we read. When we read stuff on the Google and Amazon platforms, the extent and the pattern of our reading is completely known to Google and Amazon. Google and Amazon tie this data into our profile on their services. So this information is used to configure the rest of their interaction with us. As Alexandra Alter puts it “Your ebook is reading you”. No one knows quite how much use Amazon and Google make of this information that they gather on reading patterns, but Apple is firmly saying that this is information that belongs to the customer, and that Apple will not collect and monetize this data and it will not build an elaborate profile of our activity with their devices (“we don’t read your email or your messages to get information to market to you”). Even more important the rules which govern Apple’s app platforms will only permit developers to collect this data, if the fact of collection is clearly sign-posted and under the control of the end users.

Android is looking more and more like an advertising platform. Amazon’s fork of Android is becoming indistinguishable from a digital shopping platform. Apple is securing to itself, the moral high ground but also the commercial high ground, since iOS looks like the digital device platform which allows consumers to do pretty much anything without surrendering too much data and too much privacy to services that may not work in the long-term interests of consumers.

There is still going to be be room for clever and responsive advertising on the iOS platform, but it will need to stick by the rules. This will pose a dilemma for app builders. Do they optimise their functionality and their usage for the iOS platform, or do they blend in the tricksier and sometimes creepily intrusive interactions which will be fine on Android but forbidden in iOS? My guess is that the most reputable and the most prestigious publications will concentrate even more on the ‘upmarket’ iOS platform. Certainly subscription-oriented publications will give greater weight to the privacy and contentment of their subscribers, and this will re-inforce Apple’s position as the premium platform for many apps. Magazine and newspaper apps included, because the content of these apps and our pattern of reading, is so informative, and potentially so invasive of our island of privacy.