Marco Arment has been teasing us on his last few podcasts about his new iOS app, which was revealed last week as The Magazine.
Basically, it's an iOS-only magazine that asks for US$1.99 a month and promises in return to give you four articles every fortnight written by geeks, for geeks, but not necessarily about technology.
The app looks good and reads nicely even on a small screen like that of my iPod Touch, as you'd expect from the man who created Instapaper. Navigating between articles is slick and speedy, a huge contrast to a heavier, more blatantly commercial product like the iPhone/iPod Touch edition of the New Yorker. Limitations on tweaking the way the content looks notwithstanding, The Magazine is clearly a child of the web, and all the better for it.
As to the content, essentially it's longish, self-contained pieces from people who've been publishing similar material on their blogs over the years, but who now have a chance to stretch out a bit and get paid along the way.
It probably didn't help that the jumping-off point for the first article in the free trial issue was about one of my least favourite notions to have gone the rounds of the Mac blogosphere in the last few months: the proposition that John Gruber invented the Linked List style of blogging about six years ago. Getting over that hump, I enjoyed what I read, but there's a problem.
[Where's the quote? Where's the link?]
Because for now Marco isn't posting the content on the app's web site as it's published in The Magazine, I can't link to a piece I liked to persuade you to read it, let alone to get you to subscribe to The Magazine to read more like this.
Obviously I understand that the idea is for people to subscribe to The Magazine rather than read the authors' work for free online, but I have a nasty feeling that'll work about as well as it did for The Times of London. If you publish behind a paywall, aren't you cutting yourself off from the conversation taking place across any number of blogs? If the content isn't trying to be particularly timely then this may not be a major issue, but it still makes it harder for customers to persuade others by word of blockquote. At the very least, I hope that work published through The Magazine is displayed in full on the magazine's web site a month after publishing, so that we don't have to go haring off to the various authors' personal sites to track all that content down again.
For all that, I'm still going to let the automatic In-App purchase go through and follow The Magazine for a few issues.