If there’s one thing everyone can agree on, it’s the fact that the iPad makes an incredible replacement for periodicals. While some fail, it’s evident that more and more companies are putting their faith in pixels just as much, if not more, than print. There are many ways to go about getting content onto the iPad in the form of a magazine, but none that seem more enticing than Prss (pronounced Press).
The service is not yet public, but their website has a great deal of information as to what they already have cooked up. What may make it the most enticing option in most people’s book is be the fact that the tool is free, for everyone. That’s just the beginning, though.
The overall interface of the magazines you create and within the Newsstand application itself is based almost completely off of gestures. Swipe from page to page, drag up to access the sharing features, and simply close when you’re done; very much like its physical counterpart. It’s nice to see that people are building tools and products that ease into the digital realm with familiar movements, but lack the over-stimulating, and oft shoddy skeumorphism. It’s the subtlety that I have just recently spoke of.
Another aspect they have added which gives way to its well thought out experience is that instead of having to download the entire magazine at once, it seems to load it bit by bit (see what I did there?) so you can start reading right away; no waiting for it to uncompress. One of the reasons they are able to present the content to you so efficiently is due to their (assumingly proprietary) algorithm which brings what would be a 200MB file, down to a measly 40MB. In a world full of impatient consumers wanting to consume every pixel of information they can, that is a vital component to a smooth UX.
Beyond small files, the fact that Prss is completely native for iOS allows them to tweak it to their specific parameters, improving performance. With a combination of Core Animation, Newsstand, integrated Maps, and Share Sheets, just to name a few, very little (if any) CPU power is outsourced to unnecessary processes.
As would be expected, the Newsstand application itself and all magazines are built specifically with the Retina displays in mind. From photographs to videos, your content will douse your pupils with the content you decide to fill it with. While we’ve come to expect nothing less when viewing our pixel-pushing boundaries we have set within our devices, a well optimized picture always something worth touting.
This next feature is one which I really feel will help not only Prss, but the companies, individuals, and others that use Prss as their platform. That is the feature of translation.
Texts in Prss are built for multiple languages. This way it’s possible to translate your magazine and publish the same magazine in different languages.
Creation & Distribution
This next aspect consists of the actual creation of your publication. Creating your magazine all takes place in the cloud which allows for you to see exactly how it’s going to look on your iDevice at all times. No application is needed to download as their website states, which means minuscule CPU footprint and never having to worry about keeping track of loose files on your computer.
If you’re looking to gain some revenue off of your publication, they have managed to even squeeze that in there. Actually, I don’t want to say squeezed, because that doesn’t do it justice. They completely built it into the structure of their application. By utilizing iAd, they’ve added the depth – and almost ramification – to the advertising experience. Something that print magazines could never really capitalize on, with a few exceptions.
Analytics is as vital as any part of the process when determining who is reading your publication, how long are they spending on it, and so on. Prss has managed to integrate analytics within their platform. That means no need to throw in extra code; especially the more complicated analytics that would be needed. The insights they provide you will show you how long they read, what ads they interact with, what pages are hot-spots, and the usual such at download count, page views, and the like. Having this all within the Prss ecosystem is yet another showing of how well thought out this structure is.
The last – and maybe most significant – aspect is the storefront. If you have a great periodical, you want to be able to showcase the current edition as well as the archived editions. Doing that in an aesthetically appealing manner isn’t always easy, but it’s possible. Even more so with Prss. All of the most recent editions are displayed within the Newsstand application in reverse-chronological order as you would assume. Instead of having the shelf-like design, it’s more of a gallery as you scroll through previous editions. Prss allows you to purchase (if you choose to make it a paid publication) editions and store them offline for viewing if that’s your thing as well. Keep in mind, the space it takes up is minuscule due to their compression algorithm mentioned above.
I haven’t been able to play around with the publication creation (I love coincidentally rhyming words) part of Prss yet. I’ve only seen the video they have produced and the TRVL magazine that is an example of what can be done with Prss.
With that being said, I think this is an incredible tool that is only limited by the content people produce for it. Without seeing the creation portion of Prss, I’m a bit nervous to see if it’s at all buggy. They’ve made some bold statements so far with the service, but I can’t give a first-hand account of whether or not they’re factual. If you can get a publication such as TRVL made with it, though, I’m not too concerned.
From medium-sized publication companies, to a small collection of artists and/or writers wanting to share their journeys, this is a tool that is usable by all. In fact, if I still worked as a designer for my school’s newspaper, I would definitely give this a shot for creating a digital, more media-centric version of our paper. I have spent countless days in my past working with every inch of InDesign to get a publication layout right and nothing ever came out with the interactiveness and usability that I’ve wanted. I have a feeling just a few hours with Prss would overwrite the countless days in my past I’ve attempted to do that which is now so simple.
I’m excited to see what else can come out from the tools of Prss, as their beginning hasn’t even, well, begun. Below is a video they’ve created to showcase Prss and give you a bit of an idea of what it’s capable of.
As I stated just above, I think the adoption rate and success of using Prss as a platform is dependent almost solely on the content people produce with it, as they’ve proven that the tools they need for that creation are (or will soon be) laid out right in front of them.
After giving this a read and the video a watch, what are your thoughts? Actually, before you let us know, go download TRVL; the magazine built with Prss, then give me your input. Once you’ve done that, then come back and leave me some feedback. Does this have potential to become a standard for independent publication creation for iOS?