The Pixel Peeps

Complain, Complain, Complain -Musing by Jamie Ware Billett

The New Yorker on the New iPad — Updated

Updated: 4.16.12 Conde Nast released an update to The New Yorker app today with “iPad Retina Display support beginning with the April 23rd issue, available on April 16th.”  Sure enough, the text in today’s issue looks great; no aliasing.  Text is still not selectable, so I assume it is still an image —png or something like that.  Surprisingly, the issue weighed in at 138MB as opposed to 152MB before the update.  I’ll have to see in subsequent issues what happens to the file size and to see if I was wrong about the size increasing.  This still does not address my complaints about how they do the app from day one: Large file size, images instead of rendered text. No iPhone version of the app. No sharing or quoting from articles.

Updated: 3.21.12 To my great delight, John Gruber and Dan Benjamin (@gruber, @danbenjamin ) call out this problem at even greater length and with more detail in their The Talk Show podcast #84. Starting at the 26:15 mark. Mr. Gruber also explains how the problem is a result of using Adobe tools to produce these digital magazines… which for this problem and many others proves to be a terrible idea.

I only mention The New Yorker, but the problem is the same for all Conde Nast magazines, and any others that use the same tools.  It’s a terrible, terrible way to produce these magazines. It doesn’t take advantage of any of the benefits of the iPad. Infuriating. 

—Original post below:

One of the limitations of The New Yorker app for iOS becomes even more apparent while reading on the new iPad’s high resolution retina display.

I’ve noticed in the past that the first few articles (Talk of the Town, etc.) in each issue are text selectable and therefore able to be copied, words can be defined using a built in dictionary, and these pieces can be emailed and tweeted. The rest of the magazine is like a tiff or jpeg — everything is baked into page and there is nothing you can do with the text. 

This has always been annoying and I suspect is part of the reason each issue weighs in at hundreds of megabytes (a magazine of mostly text mind you). But now on the new iPad this becomes visually apparent. The first few text selectable articles look great and fully take advantage of the retina screen. The words are as clear as on a printed page. This is the same as on web pages or in iBooks or other apps with text. But the rest of the magazine looks completely low res. The letters are badly aliased. It looks worse than on the first two iPads. For some reason they don’t use rendered text for their main articles as they do for their first few shorter articles. And the baked in files, whatever they are, aren’t high res enough for the retina screen. And what’s terrible is that if they fix this, the file sizes of each issue will get even bigger. Perhaps twice as big.  

I think they are scared of people being able to copy and paste their content and share it. But if they want to win over converts to the digital version of their very fine magazine, they need to get over their fear and make the best possible magazine for the iPad.  Not cripple it in order to try to lock it down.