I can’t say that the sudden rise of web-delivered digital magazines is a trend I foresaw. It was initially a by-product magazine renaissance that came with the mass ownership of touchscreen devices, but webzine publishing is now a niche in which many startups are willing to specialize.
This year, alone, I have personally reviewed the likes of Creatavist and Readymag, and been hugely impressed, whilst other platforms such as TypeEngine and Origami Engine — despite their names, both are more suited to talk than torque — are making significant headway, too.
My latest encounter with the format comes in the form of Beacon. With a simple approach to creation, publication and selling — even Beacon’s website is a one-pager — it should be the ideal platform for those who want to concentrate on content rather than configuration. But can it deliver the required quality to capture the attention of the reading public?
The reasons for Myspace‘s fall from the zenith of social networking were the usual: neglect, user boredom, and a sparky new competitor offering an exciting, fresh alternative. Not terribly surprising. What has surprised me is the subsequent spooky quietness of the social music void that MySpace vacated.
Of all the would-be successors to MySpace, Last.fm has come the closest to being a direct replacement; but it provides poor listening options. Spotify and Grooveshark both have social aspects, although in both cases, the main focus is on music playing. And then there was Ping; as far as Apple is concerned, the less spoken about that car crash of a network, the better.
So it’s going to be interesting to see where new music discovery service Seevl fits in. With artist profiles, a comprehensive search engine, and integration with a plethora of streaming services, it looks well equipped to meet the needs of the contemporary listener. But can the app live up to its own, appealing feature list?
Paginated publishing is back. When we originally turned away from print in favour of the digital world, web formats ruled the roost. But sales of touchscreen devices have boomed in recent years, and the knock-on effect has been to return the most natural format for reading to the ascendancy.
This arrival at full circle has triggered a brand new kind of platform — the e-publishing CMS. We may be just three years into the tablet revolution, but there are already numerous options for the journalist or novelist wanting to self-publish digitally. Apple’s introduction of iBooks was followed by the launch of near-frictionless services such as Origami Engine, ReadyMag and Type Engine, and many more have arrived since. It is a seriously competitive market.
Yet, I think the outlook for Creatavist, a new “web-based storytelling platform,” is actually quite good. A mammoth array of content options awaits potential users of this beta offering, and it also has the backing of Nicholas Thompson, the editor of The New Yorker’s website — he co-founded the developing company, in fact. So, can this new kid on the block make a meaningful impression?
Twitter is fast emerging as the go-to news source, with 1 in 10 Americans getting their news through the microblogging network, according to a survey. And the biggest news organisation on Twitter is undoubtedly Breaking News. Well, what started as a Twitter-only outfit has grown into a giant. And recently, they rolled out a whole new Web app, along with mobile apps for iOS and Android.
The new Breaking News 3.0 Web app has been completely redesigned and comes with a bunch of new features, like muting and saving topics, and a social element through ‘Whoa’. The iPhone app also has a cool Alerts feature to be notified of certain topics, which hasn’t yet been rolled out on the Web app. But the Web has the Maps interface for a look at the trending topics across the world. Let’s dive in…
Keeping a diary is a great way to make sure you remember all the things that are going on in your life for years to come — and yet, it’s incredibly hard to make yourself regularly journal. It’s easier to write something funny on Facebook or Twitter and watch the comments and likes roll in. That’s somehow more rewarding right now. And yet, a private journal where you keep track of your deepest thoughts and fears, hopes and dreams — or just the mundane stuff that happens every day — can be far more rewarding in the long run.
You just need a private space to write that makes it easy to jot your daily thoughts down — and that’s exactly what the new web app Hermit is designed for. It’s just about your daily writing, and that’s it.
Scribd started out as a place to share class notes, fledgling short stories or a political manifesto —or pretty much any PDF document you might want to share online. Recently, its taken a new direction.
Scribd has launched an eBook subscription service that’s best described as a ‘Netflix for books’. A monthly subscription offers unlimited novels, non-fiction and user generated content through a browser or smartphone app for just $8.99.
The CEO of Scribd, Trip Adler, recently inked a deal with Harper Collins US, allowing them to distribute their books as part of a subscription model, in addition to the books that were already in Scribd’s library for sale, giving Scribd the content they needed to build a huge online library.
Is this biggest change in the publishing industry since the Kindle arrived?
Last year, a survey by ratings agency Nielsen found that YouTube is the go-to platform for teenagers looking to listen to or discover new music. Indeed, online music streaming is so convenient that it’s easiest to just search for a song and play it online—and especially on YouTube.
Two other popular destinations to search for music are SoundCloud, which has a huge collection of user-uploaded tracks, and DailyMotion, which is a fantastic repository of music videos. Combine these with YouTube and you will probably be able to track down any song you want to listen to.
That’s the aim of Solayo—to make a cool online music player for regular users and let them tap into the resources of these three portals. And on top of that, it wants to build a mini social network for you to discover friends with similar tastes.
Self-hosted web apps are a great option if you’re worried about your favorite service going offline. Google Reader’s shutdown has made that potential painfully obvious, and yet, most of the best alternate RSS services are still hosted apps that could be shutdown on a whim. Or, if they’re hosted on Amazon S3 like so many services are these days, they’ll go offline along with a significant portion of your apps if Amazon has a bad day.
JellyReader is a new, simple RSS reader app that, while not self-hosted yet, is designed to make sure you can never lose your RSS reader data. Instead of trusting someone else’s cloud with your data, it stores your feeds and saved articles in your Dropbox or Google Drive account.
The independent cartographer’s future business options are looking a little shaky at present. There’s only one platform most of us use for visualizing addresses and researching locations, and it just happens to be attached to the world’s most popular search engine.
I am, of course, referring to Google Maps — a service which, due to its general-use popularity, seems to provide about nine out of every ten maps you see embedded around the web. There’s nothing terribly surprising about this, even when the restrictive nature of map-building with Google is taken into consideration — convenience, after all, is king. What is surprising is that no competitor has produced a similarly easy-to-use platform that also offers greater freedom. But things are changing.
A startup named MapBox, three years in the making, is out to corner the online cartographic marketplace. Its original breakthrough came in the shape of TileMill, an open source native mapping app. Now, however, MapBox has its own online platform — but can it snatch Google’s crown?