Review: Next Issue for iPad and Android tablets

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Next Issue is, in a nutshell, the Netflix for magazine subscriptions. You sign up for the Next Issue service, download the iPad app, and for a flat monthly fee you have unlimited access to the pretty decently sized magazine selection Next Issue currently offers. It’s that simple. Even though Apple launched Newsstand last year with iOS 5 so avid magazine subscribers can get their fix on an iPad, paying for each magazine whether by subscription or standalone issue gets costly. I spent a bit of time using the Next Issue app to find out if the service is practical for magazine readers.

Content

Upon launching the app for the first time, you are asked to sign in with your Next Issue account. There’s no way to sign up within the app, so you’ll have to take care of that process at nextissue.com beforehand. Once you sign in, you’ll find the dashboard where all of your soon-to-be magazine subscriptions will be lined up for your consumption. You’ll want to choose the magazines you’re interested in first. Let’s run through the entire content selection.

  • Allure
  • All You
  • Better Homes and Gardens
  • Bon Appétit
  • Brides
  • Car and Driver
  • Coastal Living
  • Condé Nast Traveler
  • Cooking Light
  • Elle
  • Entertainment Weekly
  • Esquire
  • Essence
  • Fitness
  • Fortune
  • Glamour
  • Golf
  • Golf Digest
  • GQ
  • Health
  • InStyle
  • Money
  • Parents
  • People
  • People en Español
  • People StyleWatch
  • Popular Mechanics
  • Real Simple
  • Self
  • Southern Living
  • Sports Illustrated
  • Sports Illustrated Kids
  • Sunset
  • The New Yorker
  • This Old House
  • Time
  • Vanity Fair
  • Vogue
  • Wired
That totals up to 39 magazines. I think that’s actually a pretty good selection so far, especially because Next Issue has been able to nail most of top ones. While you’re scrolling through the magazines to pick which ones you want to subscribe to, a message above reads in part: “Come back often, as we’re adding new titles all the time.” I can’t help but believe that’s true. Hopefully when the content library gets larger, Next Issue will add a search bar. Scrolling is fine for now, but it’ll eventually become tedious.

Features

I chose three magazines: Wired because I like technology, Fortune because I like big business, and Bon Appétit because I like looking at pictures of food. (Let’s be realistic here, I’m pretty damn sure that’s why most people subscribe to food magazines.) The magazines are sorted in a grid with the latest issue of each magazine displaying as the icon — like Newsstand without the pretty wooden background. Even though the latest cover is consistently updated, that doesn’t mean each issue is automatically downloaded. To enable automatic downloads, tap the small arrow icon on the bottom right of any magazine cover.

Tapping a magazine brings you to another grid with the list of issues you can choose to read. If you don’t have automatic downloads set up, tapping one will initiate the download. If you do, it should quickly open. Next Issue’s smart download feature means you’ll be able to open the magazine after only the first few pages are ready and the rest will load as you read. On the bottom right of the individual issues where the arrow icon for automatic downloads is normally located on the main cover is a pin icon in its place. Tapping this will download that issue and pin it, which means it’s stored locally on your iPad so you won’t have to download it again in the future.

You can manage storage from the settings menu located on the top right. Tap the icon then tap Usage to to view issues downloaded, your own preference for the maximum amount of issues, and all pinned and unpinned issues, which you can choose to delete in bulk. (You can also delete all issues from a specific magazine by pressing and holding the magazine cover in your library.) From that settings menu you can set email notifications when new issues are available and sign out as well. I’m disappointed there’s no push notification support, but I suppose email notifications is better than nothing.

Paging through the issues themselves is pretty self-explanatory. Different magazines choose to format them differently. Some want you to flip through whether it’s for pages of an article or entirely new articles, while others want you to scroll up and down for one complete article and horizontal swipe to move on to the next one.

Tapping anywhere on the screen while reading a magazine brings up the navigation bars. On the top left there’s an icon to view the table of contents in list view and below there’s a slider to browse the carousel of pages in the magazine. Next Issue’s carousel feature is nothing short of superb and in my use is essential for browsing through magazine issues.

Pricing

Next Issue has two subscription options. The $9.99 per month Basic plan gets you unlimited access to most of the top magazines available and the $14.99 per month Premium plan includes all magazines, adding in those with weekly issues: Entertainment Weekly, People, Sports Illustrated, The New Yorker, and Time. Both start out with a 30-day free trial. When you add up just how much you spend on individual magazine subscriptions, you’ll realize Next Issue’s pricing is quite aggressive. You can also purchase individual issues from Next Issue if need be.

Conclusion

Most likely what will make or break this app for you is if your favorite magazines are supported. If they are, signing up is a no-brainer. Next Issue’s app is easy to use, the service is affordable, and your magazine subscriptions are efficiently consolidated in one place. Aside from my small gripe about the lack of push notifications and the eventual need to expand the content library (already happening rapidly,) Next Issue is an excellent idea and one that works wonderfully.

You can sign up for the free trial at nextissue.com and download the app for iPad or Android tablets.

  • http://www.facebook.com/easstotts Edward Stotts

    I recently had to clear my tablet. I had it without Google Play, because I can’t access it. Next issue gave me a link that ends with .spk but, I can’t find the email w/ it is.

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