Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

The New Yorker Lands on the iPhone, With Help From Lena Dunham and Jon Hamm

Here’s another way to crack the “big stack of old New Yorkers you don’t have time to get to” problem: You can now read the magazine on your iPhone, via a new app.

If you’ve used the New Yorker’s iPad app, then you’ll have a very good sense of what you’re getting here: All of the magazine’s content, along with a small handful of digital goodies, delivered to your device via Apple’s Newsstand.

Access is free for print subscribers, or you can buy a digital-only subscription that includes iPad and iPhone access; you can also buy individual issues. Publisher Conde Nast is giving away this week’s edition free, so you can try it out yourself.

Putting a magazine on the iPhone makes perfect sense for people like me, who do a ton of reading on the handset (our family iPad is pretty much relegated to Netflix delivery/babysitting duties). But it’s a departure for Conde Nast, which has generally tried to keep its digital replicas confined to iPads and other tablets.*

Beyond the obvious news, there is something interesting happening behind the scenes for people who track app development. After nearly two years, Conde and Adobe, who built the publisher’s app platform, have finally figured out how to handle “paginated HTML,” which means the app can now handle text as … text. Instead of giant image files.

Short version: The iPhone version of the New Yorker will be a lot easier to download than the iPad version.

This week’s edition, for instance, will weigh in at 23 megabytes, while the iPad versions have been going well over 100MB a pop. And the New Yorker will now be able to use the same tech to give the iPad version a slim-down, says Deputy Editor Pam McCarthy, who handles the apps.

Meanwhile, if you’re reading this, you really don’t need a video explaining how or why you should use the app. (It’s not 2010.) But I’m so glad that the New Yorker commissioned Lena Dunham to make one, anyway. Here’s the “Girls” auteur, along with Mad Man Jon Hamm, and some awesome pants.

*The same goes for most of the publishing business, though I think that’s changing, and will certainly accelerate if phones get bigger and/or tablets shrink.


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— Gitesh Pandya of BoxOfficeGuru.com comments on the dreadful opening weekend box office numbers for “The Fifth Estate.”