The iPad app format has been a godsend for newspapers and print magazines, which are using them to secure their subscription base. Now some Internet companies that provide articles, news, and the like, are watching this hand held popularity and trying to get a piece of the action. Enter AOL Editions.
What you get with AOL Editions is a way for AOL to customize their content to look and feel like a magazine that was made just for you. When you first boot it up you make a few decisions about how you want it to look at what type of content is to be prioritized. From here it takes a sizable amount of time to build your magazine, and you are off.
Within the pages you get cover stories, a table of content listing longer articles, and at all times a direct connection to social networking and tidbits that are important to your locality, such as the weather. The design is relatively clever, though at times cluttered to navigate. You will be able to browse through items as if they were on a physical page, but at its heart is a social networking design that allows you to customize content even further and even gives you a profile to develop. All of this is nice as long as the content is legitimate, and it is as much as you will find from their web sources. What this really means is that it is sizable, yet you are not going to get the kind of writing you may expect from the Huffington Post or The New Yorker. They are priding themselves on the customizability, yet this is still relatively minimal.
The majority of the design still reflects a website, witch links and adds gracing the sides of the page. Each page is stacked up with the ability to comment, Like on Facebook, Tweet, share on LinkedIn, and more. When browsing the different articles it takes more of a newspaper feel, yet it allows you to select the snippets to get a full text articles.
AOL Editions is really AOL’s attempt at giving you a somewhat customizable daily magazine from their own content, and it is not unsuccessful in doing this. The real question is if the brand and what is available is going to be enough to establish itself when paired next to a series of well-established publications that are making their way to the App Store. The text is very readable, and normally social networking tools are a great way to pull people in. The problem here is that it may be overwhelming for people who want a magazine experience on their iPad, and the links to web content for much of the local news may be just plain annoying.
The relative success of AOL Editions is still to be seen, but since it remains a free iPad magazine app it is hard to see it going down too quickly. It may end up being the nice alternative for people who do prefer Internet based news content, yet just have trouble using a browser when they are moving around with their iPad.