Times Internet* (Indiatimes) has launched what it claims to be India’s first tablet magazine, Tweek, in partnership with GENWI, a company that offers a cloud based publishing platform. Available in form of an app, the magazine can be downloaded on the iPad via Apple’s iTunes App Store, and will be also made available on the iPhone and Android devices, in the near future, according to the company. The weekly magazine packages articles across various lifestyle related themes, from other Times Internet properties, in a tablet friendly format, and also features multimedia including audio and animated graphics.
We tried using Tweek on an iPad 1 running iOS5 and after experiencing several hiccups initially including content not loading, and the app crashing even after several reloads, we discovered that there was an update in the App Store, which fixed these issues.
– Interface & Features:
Easy Navigation & Clutter free interface: The app integrates its own Newsstand complete with a wood gradient background, that stores previous and fresh issues, and allows users to download and retrieve them. It only supports Portrait orientation, which is understood since it’s a magazine. It does not feature any ads, however, the company says that the magazine can feature interactive advertorials in the future, in an effort to monetize it.
Navigation is simple as the pages can be flipped horizontally and vertically to access content, similar to most e-books and digital magazines. Hyperlinks and playback controls (for audio files) within pages work as intended.
A top-level contents drop-down menu allows readers to navigate across different sections/pages. There is also a top-level menu which can be invoked anytime with a simple touch, displaying controls for sharing on social networks and e-mail, for navigating to the content page or for going directly to the Newsstand. Overall, the navigation is smooth and the interface is free of clutter with a balance of white space and graphic elements.
Layout: Pages that contain picture galleries or slideshows offer sliders and navigation indicators, however, at times, we found that the layout was not very aesthetically appealing, and pictures seemed to be patched together, not blending with the background. Also, we’d like a better indicator for tracking the progress of downloaded content within the app.
Social (Or rather the lack of it) Sharing: It’s not possible to share a specific article and social or email sharing only shares a link to download the app on the iPad. Why can’t it link to an online page? We do understand that the aim is to get more downloads but not everyone following us on Twitter has an iPad or is probably not reading on one. News Corp’s The Daily solved this problem by putting all the pages on a separate website.
Lifestyle Focused: The magazine features content across different lifestyle genres such as Life, Fitness, Travel, Tech and Music charts. The latest issue offers a mix of lifestyle features, self help articles and picture slides, on topics ranging from footwear that Silicon Valley entrepreneurs wear to how marriage could make one fat to a slide show about interesting iPad accessories. Content is predominantly focused on generic lifestyle theme. We’d like to see a more India focussed approach. Judging by the number of content properties under the Indiatimes umbrella, we’d like to see more in terms of both, themes as well as feature articles.
Less interactivity: The magazine also features top 5 Bollywood and International tracks from Gaana.com, that play within the app. Except this (and the cover page), we were not able to find any other multimedia elements in the latest issue. Perhaps the magazine could take a clue from WIRED’s digital edition or Rupert Murdoch’s The Daily iPad newspaper, both of which feature several interactive elements. In its present format, the magazine does not offer much in terms of interactivity. We’d also like to see a personalised approach, where readers can choose to read topics of their interest.
Tweek would have an advantage over paid magazines, being a free app, but that alone might not be enough to ensure that readers come back looking for new issues, every week. The success of the app in terms of stickiness among users, would depend on the uniqueness of content that it can offer, in addition to the variety of themes.
*Disclosure: Times Internet is an advertiser with MediaNama