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.


  1. I applaud Wired for doing this. It is only necessary because Apple doesn’t allow multitasking in the iPhone/iPad OS. I run into this quite freqently on my iPhone and it is incredibly annoying.

    As an example, the iPhones built-in Stocks app provides links to related business and financial articles at the bottom of the screen. If I want to read one, I click on the link. This opens the link in Safari. Since there is no multitasking, the Stocks app closes at the same time. When I’m done with the article and want to read the next one in the list, I have to close Safari, reopen the Stocks app, wait for it to refresh and then click the next link, which starts the cycle all over again.

    Can you imagine what it would be like if, during the course of reading Wired on the iPad, you decided to click fifty external links? After reading each external article, you’d have to close Safari and reopen the Wired app. I think it would ruin the entire experience.

  2. In Apple’s defense, a truly advanced OS with true multitasking, multithreading, etc, would require a bigger memory footprint, more storage, faster processors, and result in less response. They would have to build more robust hardware and either charge more (limiting market appeal) or giving up their traditional 30-50% profit margin. (Yeah, right!)

    They would end up with a product looking and performing a lot like Android and WinMo and how would Apple then claim to “think different”? 😉

    They know exactly what they’re doing…
    Take it or leave it but don’t expect the scorpion to be anything but a scorpion.
    Not when its as profitable as it is.
    For all the griping, Apple sales aren’t hurting, are they? They know what they can get away with.

  3. You can defend Apple’s lack of multitasking all you want, but it continues to be one of the biggest, most noticeable flaws in its line of products. If the iPad is supposed to revolutionize media consumption, Apple might want to get this all figured out. For a product with that big a flaw, I can’t believe people will pay the premium that some news stations are saying they’ll have to pay:

    “It’s looking like a great product, but $499 for the least expensive version of this product, still pretty pricey, so if you do go out and buy it, you’re probably going to get a good product, but you’re probably paying top dollar if you buy it within the first few months.” (

  4. @RT: You may find it hard to believe folks will pay the iPad premium but the reality is enough *will* pay it. In numbers larger than you and I can even begin to imagine.
    I suspect if Apple caved their logo on bricks and attached a keychain to it, they’d sell a zillion keychains at $499 each.

    There’s plenty of people who find multitasking important; there’s enough who don’t to keep Apple in business.

    That’s the way it is. 😉

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