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iOS5’s Newsstand

iOS 5.0  for the iPhone and iPad came out on Wednesday. Like everyone else on the planet, we spent the next few days trying to upgrade our iDevices to this latest version. The simultaneous global demand brought Apple’s servers to its knees. Some people were able to upgrade successfully, but most users encountered the dreaded “Error 3200.” Lots of solutions and workarounds popped up on the Net, but they were basically worthless as the problem was on Apple’s end. Things settled down after a few days, we finally got our devices upgraded, and now we can take a closer look at the new features. Was the all fuss and effort worth it?

Well, the upgrade is free. That makes it pretty hard to beat. Apple’s claim is there are over 200 new features to the OS and to many of the apps. As with any upgrade, not all of the features will be important to everyone. Some will love the addition of the iMessage app which will let you text for free to other iPhone users. However, if you are WhatsApp users like us, you will already have had this capability for months. Frequent Twitter users (we are not) will laud the tighter Twitter integration under iOS 5. Mobile users will be able to update and back up without having to connect to a computee.

Along with the new features added to old apps, there is also the addition of new apps (Newstand, Notification Center, and Reminders). The one we are especially interested in is Newsstand. The problem with buying magazines and newspapers via the App Store is that you have to get the new issue from the actual publisher. This is a bit of a pain with monthly publications, but totally annoying with daily ones. We want the periodicals to just show up (like they do now in our mailbox) when a new one is available. With Newsstand, Apple has made it simpler for both end-users and publishers to read, buy, and get updates to electronic magazines and newspapers. They have also added a special place in the App store just for publications.

Users can now buy annual digital subscriptions of their favorite magazines. Some publishers are more generous than others when it comes to giving access to the digital version when you already subscribe to their print version. From a subcriber’s prespective, Wired Magazine is doing it right. If you (like us) already have a print subscription, you can access the digital copy for free. At $10/year (print + digital), it is currently the best deal out there. National Geographic is a magazine which should be right at home on the iPad. We have not had a chance to check it out yet, but it is on our “to do” list.

We love the idea of the Newsstand and hope that we can find a way to get the iPad version of RainyDayMagazine up there soon. We have not published anything using Adobe’s DMP tools since Spring as it was just not economically feasible for us. However, the rumor is that Adobe will be releasing sometime in November a lower-priced version of their digital magazine publishing tools for small publishers like us. With Newsstand and some less expensive tools, hopefully we will be back in the App Store next year! We will keep you posted.

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