After years of stubborn refusal, the iconic Rolling Stone has released an iPad version of their print magazine. This marks the biggest change to hit the publication since 2008 when it ditched it’s larger size for a more industry-friendly footprint.
Like so many other digital magazine subscriptions for the iPad, it’s difficult to expect much from Rolling Stone. Going in to the experience, you assume that it simply will work and thereby allow you to read what you normally would or that it won’t.
To approach Rolling Stone’s iPad incarnation with such an attitude would be a mistake, as it has a few impressive features integrated with its polished presentation.
Chief among these is a brilliant built-in music player that allows you to preview and buy songs that are mentioned in reviews or feature pieces. This is a welcome, if eerily futuristic, improvement over the print magazine as it gives readers the chance to listen to a song in the app as they read a reviewer’s take on it.
Outside of this addition are the usual iPad tweaks like in-column scrolling and smart ads that allow you to view products and pages rather than just see adverts for them. The print is clear and crisp, and the layout never feels cluttered or confusing.
Functionality like this is all expected, naturally, which brings the built-in music player back to the forefront as the exact sort of added incentive that iPad versions of print magazines need to offer in order to justify their subscription price.
This is especially true for titles like Rolling Stone, which do not provide a free digital subscription for their print subscribers. It’s unlikely that any but the most devoted of readers would purchase a print and digital subscription of any magazine, and at this point readers must make a choice.
While I still enjoy paper magazines for the times that I want to kick back and relax without staring at a screen, I think I’d take the iPad subscription of Rolling Stone over the print edition if only so I can hear what they’re talking about.
Slick built-in music player, intuitive navigation and layout
Requires an additional subscription on top of print edition price, ads feel a bit heavy at times
Price: Free (yearly subscription is $19.99)