We’ve been using the Newsstand app for some time now. It is a default app that you automatically receive when you purchase an iPad, and at the beginning we didn’t even really pay much attention to it. That was until we realized that we could download all our favorite magazines with it.
We are a great follower of such esteemed publications as People magazine (because we feel we should be living the life of a star) and Entertainment Weekly (because we love, love, love films), and in the past when we have purchased them off the shelf, we have found them pricey and a few days behind.
The Newsstand app showed us that we could take full advantage of yearly subscription rates at U.S. prices, and we could get our favorite magazines hot off the presses.
Sounded like a bargain to us.
How it works
Well, you don’t even need to worry about downloading this app because it magically appears on your device when you first set it up. Click on the Newsstand icon, and what appears resembles a stand or bookshelf upon which you can place virtual magazines.
In the bottom right-hand corner you’ll see “Store,” and when you tap on it, you’ll be taken to the Newsstand section of the App Store. This is where you can either scroll through the featured list of magazines, or you can search for specific choices.
You’ll notice that unlike many other apps that tend to be iTunes country specific, Newsstand offers an incredible variety of U.S. and international magazines, from the well-recognized to the obscure, and in a number of different languages.
If you’re interested in a particular category, you can tap the drop-down menu along the top that lists them all, from Business & Investing and Cooking, Food & Drink to History, Science, Entertainment and others.
For example, under the History category you’ll find the Archeo, Quest and Smithsonian magazines; and under Entertainment, the latest from Fender magazine, Funny or Die’s The Occasional, VIVA! Ukraine, 2000 AD Comics – featuring Judge Dredd, and of course the much more mainstream titles like Vanity Fair.
The only initially confusing part might be that the magazines are all listed as “free.” The issues are not free, but downloading the access to them is complimentary.
Once you’ve found the one you want, tap on it, and it will download just like an app would. When it’s finished, you can either purchase issues on a one-by-one basis, or you can buy a subscription for 6 or 12 months, saving you a fair bit of money when you add it up.
No matter what manner of payment you choose, it will charge it to your iTunes account, and then download the issue to your device. Note that with larger magazines like Vanity Fair, it can take a while, depending on your connection.
When the issue is available, you can swipe through it as you would a book on your iPad, and it will usually offer extras not found in the print edition, but you will need to be connected to the Internet to see them.
If you do purchase a subscription and choose to receive “Push notifications,” your device will automatically prompt you when the next issue is available.
You can keep back issues on your device in your library, but just be aware that they will take up a fair bit of space after a while, so it’s good to purge them from time to time.
When we used it
It’s been an interesting experiment, trying out magazines and books on our device, rather than buying them in physical form. On the one hand, we’ve really enjoyed getting information on upcoming shows and films in a timely fashion, as entertainment magazines give you advance notice on things to watch that you might otherwise miss.
We’ve also found the app very easy to use, and particularly useful when we’ve been going on vacation, as those magazines can get pretty heavy when you’re taking a lot of them. There is no comparison in price, either. With a subscription, we’ve saved at least 60 percent off what we were paying retail.
That being said, we hate to admit it, but for the most part we prefer holding a magazine or book in our hands. We’re not sure why; maybe it’s the familiarity of it, or that there’s a simple pleasure in turning the pages. The other advantage to buying the magazines off the shelf instead of through the Newsstand app is that they can be donated afterward to hospitals and the like.
For many, the Newsstand app is going to make a big difference to how they get their information and access to their favorite magazines. One of the things that people miss the most when they leave their home country is the ability to easily get the latest news and gossip from areas familiar to them.
The Newsstand app gives them that ability with the click of a button, and immediately, without the added shipping charge and waiting time.
There may be those who prefer the printed versions, but there is no doubt that a high percentage of the population will be a big fan of their virtual Newsstand.