Print's Best New iPad Apps of 2011

App Revenue Suggests Readers Want 'Bells and Whistles' Like Video and Interactivity

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A screenshot from Bloomberg Businessweek's iPad app, one of the best of 2011, according to iMonitor
A screenshot from Bloomberg Businessweek's iPad app, one of the best of 2011, according to iMonitor

This year's best new iPad apps by U.S. magazines and newspapers came from a diverse group of publishers, including a serious business weekly, a monthly about easy-to-prepare meals, beauty and fitness titles and three metro dailies, according to McPheters & Company's iMonitor service.

Publishers' 10 best iPad apps from 2011 -- presented in alphabetical order, because they scored identically or very close together in iMonitor's quality rankings -- are:

  • Allure, from Conde Nast
  • Bloomberg Businessweek, part of Bloomberg LP
  • Golf Digest, published by Conde Nast
  • Everyday Food, from Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia
  • Orlando Sentinel, part of Tribune
  • The Philadelphia Inquirer, owned by Philadelphia Media Network
  • Reader's Digest, part of Reader's Digest Association
  • San Francisco Chronicle, a Hearst newspaper
  • Self, from Conde Nast
  • Sound + Vision, part of Bonnier

iMonitor gauges quality by rating how well apps work, whether they crash, how long they take to download, whether they include video or audio, navigability, interactivity, social-media capabilities and other factors. It reported in October that quality has a higher correlation with magazine and newspaper app revenue than a variety of variables including price and audience demographics.

The top new apps of 2011 have varying combinations of features but all successfully navigate the challenges of tablet publishing, said McPheters & Co. CEO Rebecca McPheters, like including interactive elements and rich content without making the app so large that it takes too long to load.

"They were well-designed and easily navigated," Ms. McPheters said. "They conform to many of the best practices we've established with features that conserve users' time and device resources. They are highly functional, which means they work well and don't have serious malfunctions. They download quickly. And they have lots of rich media enhancements."

Some publishers are dialing back tablet editions' rich media elements such as video, which take time to incorporate, make files bigger and present more opportunities for glitches. But readers do seem to like these elements, according to iMonitor analysis.

"Rich media enhancements are important because they serve to make these apps highly engaging and are also used by editors to increase the level of service they are able to provide their readers," Ms. McPheters said. "We have found a strong correlation between the use of rich media and app revenue."

"It's not bells and whistles," Ms. McPheters added. "It's really ways that you can improve the service that you offer your reader. Think of all the things you can do with localization, of all the things you can do with transactional capabilities to close the gap between someone seeing something they want and buying it. It's the same with social media. Think of how often you read something that you want to share. The best apps make it easy to do that ."

Publishers' best apps in 2010, the year the iPad debuted, came from titles including Elle, Martha Stewart Living, People, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, and Wired, according to iMonitor.

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