Test Driving the New Travel + Leisure iPad App
Travel Blog • Jim Benning • 11.03.10 | 3:15 PM ET
Travel + Leisure magazine just launched an app designed especially for the iPad, and the first issue, for November, is available for free.
Here’s how the magazine touts the app on its iPad FAQ page.
You’ll find exclusive videos from top creative minds and travel experts and bonus photo galleries and slideshows of the magazine’s award-winning photography from destinations around the globe. You’ll get the best of the print magazine, plus bonus trip tips, interactive maps, booking and buying links, audio reviews, and much more-all the tools you need to take you where you want to go.
I downloaded it last night and took it for a test spin.
I liked it.
Photos really pop on the iPad, of course, and the magazine’s travel photos shine. While reading text stories on the iPad isn’t a whole lot different from reading them online or in print, the interactive elements are where things get a little more interesting. The app’s creators clearly took pains to build in a number of interactive and multimedia elements that you can’t include in a print magazine.
I watched a short video of Andrew McCarthy exploring 42nd Street in New York City, and clicked on a map of the Dead Sea to see how water levels have changed over the years. My favorite digital feature was a map comparing some of the best and worst U.S. airports. Click on each airport and up pops its rate of late departures and the best and worst times of day to travel there. It’s not an incredibly sophisticated feature—it’s simple, really—but using it was fun and easy.
What intrigues me most about an app like this is the sense of possibility it offers. Ultimately, I agree with Khoi Vin, the former design director at the New York Times, who wrote recently of most print magazines’ iPad apps (he wasn’t referring to Travel + Leisure’s):
The fact of the matter is that the mode of reading that a magazine represents is a mode that people are decreasingly interested in, that is making less and less sense as we forge further into this century, and that makes almost no sense on a tablet. As usual, these publishers require users to dive into environments that only negligibly acknowledge the world outside of their brand, if at all—a problem that’s abetted and exacerbated by the full-screen, single-window posture of all iPad software. In a media world that looks increasingly like the busy downtown heart of a city—with innumerable activities, events and alternative sources of distraction around you—these apps demand that you confine yourself to a remote, suburban cul-de-sac.
That rings true to me—even regarding Travel + Leisure’s app.
I haven’t had my iPad long, but I like using it. I just don’t feel as though I’ve found a killer app yet, and certainly not a killer travel app.
Will I download the next Travel + Leisure issue for $3.99? Maybe. I’m not sure yet.