Mac Slocum at O’Reilly Radar points out something interesting about Wired Magazine’s new iPad format.
According to an analysis on a Reuters blog, Wired is taking a closed-sandbox approach to outbound links with the magazine pieces—rather than calling the iPad’s Mobile Safari to open them, it will open them in a pop-up window within the Wired app itself—so that when it is closed, users will still be in the Wired app.
On the one hand, it is understandable that Wired might not want to chance dumping readers out of its app—especially given that this will mean their app closes due to the iPad’s presumed inability to multitask.
But on the other hand, as Slocum points out, this sort of arbitrary crippling of web usability does not make sense for a device as capable as the iPad. In fact, it sounds downright annoying.
On the gripping hand, the comment thread with Slocum’s article points out that iPhone Twitter clients do much the same thing already—opening URLs in a window within the client, with options to pop them out to Safari or send them to InstaPaper—so it is possible the iPad Wired will do the same.
In which case this really is a tempest in a teacup.
In one of the discussion comments, Slocum says that what he is concerned about is not so much the specific features of Wired’s iPad edition, but the necessity to “work within the context of the magazine.”
It’s not a magazine. It’s digital content on an Internet-connected device. You may deem that semantics. That’s fair. But that’s now how I see it. If it’s digital and it’s in the web space I believe it should fully embrace all the functionality the web has to offer—and that includes linking, sharing, embeds, etc. The whole enchilada, not just the stuff that works within a desired "experience." To me, that experience should go the extra mile.
Still, if they were just wanting to “embrace web functionality,” they didn’t need to make a separate app. There is something to be said for creating a specialized application that handles certain aspects of the magazine better.