If you've kept up with these Free on iTunes articles then you'll know that I've talked much about e-zines and how much or how little they've changed the buying and reading habits of the average Joe or Jill. The promises of paying for a transient collection of organized electrical impulses instead of ink and paper were plenty. No more clutter, a streamlined system of distribution, cheaper prices, higher quality were all promised, as well as slick new ways of enjoying content were what we could expect from this new medium.
In one way or another, much of the promise has been realized. The problem is that no e-zine seems to be able to deliver all of what was promised. This mag has a great interface, but is light on content. That e-zine puts content front and center, but the interface makes it harder than it should be to enjoy it. Some e-zines hits close to the sweet spot by blurring the line between what is considered a periodical and an application, so much so that these "app-zines" are not found in Apple's Newsstand app, but are actually standalone apps that you load up and use like you might Word with Friends, but these you swipe, view, and read instead of play.
Take POST for instance. The cover, every ad, and every cover page of every article is full of motion and sound. The looped movies and photos are high quality, the articles are interesting and well written, and there's all sorts of interactivity to make using the app-zine something you'll want to do.
POST is the product of MERI Media, a UK publishing company that focuses on e-zines for tablets, primarily iPads. They have other products too, and their production DNA is evident in each. I think this will be only the second time I've focused an entire article on products from a particular company. The first was The New York Public Library's Biblion series. Anyway, let's get too it.
MERI Media has pushed out three POST app-zines; Matter, Gravity, and Pavilion.
POST: Matter takes a look at the basic stuff that makes up our world, but you'll find nothing expected or boring about what's presented.
Matter takes on four forms: solid, liquid, gas, and plasma. Articles in POST: Matter take unconventional views of each. For instance, there's a feature called Ghost in the Machine and it's a short, looping movie showing a woman writhing in translucent water. The milky water and slow movements gives her a very ghost-like quality and in some points she looks as if she can push beyond the screen. It's hypnotically beautiful and you may find yourself staring at it longer than you'll realize.
Other articles and ads have similarly obtuse views of matter. There's even an article on the Large Hadron Collider that features the sounds the mammoth device makes as it probes the secrets of atoms. You can play each of eight sounds and layer them to create eerily beautiful music.
POST: Gravity is the latest and it features articles with themes that loosely focus on man's attempt to reach beyond the force that binds us to Earth. You'll find photo galleries of real and fictional spacecrafts, essays about Voyager and the LAGEOs Satellites, even the ads are space worthy.
One section I enjoy a lot is the Periodic Table, a collection of things displayed as small rotating gif photos arranged in the shape of the familiar elemental periodic table. Tap and object and it expand to a window featuring the item and a brief explanation of what it is, how much it costs, and where to get more information. You can rotate the expanded item too, so you see if from front to back. It's clever and effective. The Periodic Table is featured in POST: Matter as well.
This is an ad...for makeup!
POST: Pavilion seems more of a advertising test platform. You'll find a series of short movies from different artists that feature a product or makes a statement. They all interesting to view at least once.
Altered Earth is another MERI Media app-zine. It takes a look at out natural environment and how we interact with it. Altered Earth shares the same design concepts as the POST app-zines, but the similarities end there.
There are nine chapters in Altered Earth, each take in-depth looks at some aspect of how we deal with the land and water around us. Each chapter is brimming with photos, movies, essays, and activities that invite you to explore. For instance, there's a chapter that looks at the massive World War II bunkers and how they've faired since they were abandoned. As you read the brief essay and browse the various bunker designs a background video plays. The video has nothing to do with the bunkers, but they lend the chapter an ethereal atmosphere.
Interactive feature in Altered Earth
MERI Media also makes Moving Six and Hypnose Star. I haven't had a chance to look at either, but if they are like POST and Altered Earth app-zines then they'll be well worth your investigation. All but Hypnose Star and Altered Earth are iPad only.
You really should grab at least one of these app-zine when you have more than a few minutes to sit and browse.
And that's a wrap for this week.
If you are looking for something to show off your new iDevice, but you want it free, then grab Fruit Ninja, this week's free App of the Week. Get it and get in on all the fruit slicing fun.