ESPN The Mag app for the iPad didn’t live up to all the hype

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I have been reading ESPN The Magazine for the last five years, if not longer. It’s become a tradition in my family that every year when the renewal notice comes in June, I re-subscribe plus re-up the three subscriptions that I get my father and brothers for Christmas. It’s a great magazine and makes a great gift. For the last couple years of reading it, within the first few pages there is a full page dedicated to their iPad app and how great it is. It is always telling you about the extra features you can find and enjoy with it. Until recently the only thing I have been able to do every time I get to that page is wish I could see the extra content they are raving about. So what was one of the first apps I installed after getting my iPad a few weeks ago? ESPN The Mag of course.

Maybe it was the buildup of seeing that page every couple weeks for two years, but I wasn’t very impressed with the app. The first thing that is a very big let down for me is that it is portrait mode only. If a developer can’t make an app designed for a tablet that can be viewed in landscape mode, I find it a disappointment. Ninety percent of the time my tablets are locked into landscape mode. I can understand why some games are portrait mode only when they also need to play on phones, but ESPN doesn’t have an iPhone app. I would think that they would prefer landscape since it is more representative of a magazine.

So after my initial letdown of seeing the app open up in portrait mode, I decided to look past that for a minute and dive into the app itself. One of the things I love about the magazine is the pictures. Because the magazine is bigger than the average size it makes the pictures that much nicer to look at. ESPN continues this trend in the app. Rather than it being text driven you can tell right away that it is image driven and the text is just an aid to help you navigate. Even in the slide shows you have the ability to either read the attached description, or hide it completely.

ESPN1 - for some reason we don't have an alt tag hereOne area where ESPN has always excelled is pictures that you won’t find in any other sports magazine. They have a feature called Zoom that is usually up close and personal photos, or just plain unique ones. They reveal a side of sports that you almost never see anywhere else. They only have two or three of these photos in the magazine, but they add a new one every day to the app. They keep the previous 20 days available for viewing in a section of the app.

Another of the things I really enjoy when reading the paper version of the magazine is the sidebars that are put into an article. They don’t always relate directly to the article, but are connected in some minor way. I like to stop and read them because a lot of times they include some insight into an aspect of the article. Other times they are just useless facts, but either way it’s a nice addition to the article. The app doesn’t have any of these sidebar items in the articles. It’s just the article and the included photos, which leave me wanting more.

One of the things I found out about the app is that you can get the newest version of the magazine before it shows up in your mailbox. I checked for new versions and it has the newest one dated ten days from now. I could potentially read the entire magazine before it even arrives. There is one catch to the app though, and it requires an ESPN INsider subscription to read any more than the first issue you get when you install the app. When I went to download the newest issue I had to enter my account information. If you subscribe to the magazine then you have this access without it costing you any more. If you don’t have a subscription it costs $4.95 per month. The app is free to download, so give it a try if you are looking for a good sports magazine.

[ESPN The Mag]
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Bryan Faulkner

Bryan Faulkner is a former associate editor at Pocketables. He loves to find new ways to use his tablets while working as the Tech Director at his local church. Mixing sound from the iPad is his newest obsession. He currently has a pair of HP TouchPads, an iPad 2, a decommissioned HTC EVO 4G, and a Samsung Galaxy Note II to tinker with.

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