My phone rang. In heavy metal. "Hi Jim!" The laugh hit me like a Heineken-fueled right cross. "Hey, Rene. So I'm making a new version of The Loop Magazine app..." That was great news. Dalrymple's Loop Magazine - which, full disclosure, I've written for twice - is an ode to Apple, tech, and music nerdery, and I enjoy it dearly. But, app-wise, it was already struggling to keep up with Jim's vision. And that's just when the bearded uppercut landed. "So, do you know this guy, Chris Harris?"
I did. Chris Harris is Tigger on Red Bull. A madly clever Englishman who styles himself an app director so he can better woo old media into the bed of new. He's been working on a platform for years, called Glide, meant to be simple yet powerful on the backend for content creators, yet enthralling for readers and viewers on the front. Wonders of the Universe was one of his most high-profile joints. (You can hear him talk all about it, his process, and Glide in general in Iterate episode 47.)
Jim spent a short time telling me what he wanted to achieve with the new Loop Magazine. Imagine the reverse of one of his iPhone or Logic Pro reviews. Instead of weighing the relative success of how something fit into and improved day-to-day life, he laid out his plan for making the Loop Magazine experience do just that, and with every bit as much delight. Dropbox on his end, with a logical hierarchy of folders for text, images, and videos, and near-instant sync for content delivery. Movement through space and context, direct manipulations and gestures on the readers end, elevating the experience to, well, an experience.
Part of Glide's genius - and Chris' and his team's genius - is that through simplicity they can produce a remarkable amount of sophistication and diversity. Chris has spoken to me about it often over the years, and was kind enough to not only give me a tour of the Loop Magazine's specific implementation - grinning the whole time he did so, of course - but let me try using it as well. It's impressive.
What Jim's doing with it is equally impressive. Tools and instruments are only ever as good as their craftsmen and artists, and Jim is re-launching the Loop Magazine in style. Not only does the latest issue - offered as a free sample - contain his article about the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c, it contains an article from Matthew Modine about what he learned from working with Stanley Kubrik while working on Full Metal Jacket.
As you tap into the issue and the article, as you scroll through the words, as the images zoom in and out, as you swipe to the next article, and as you pinch back to the issue or the rack of issues, it's all fluid, it's immersive. It's an amazing confluence of technology and media, and one that very much sparks that same childlike sense of wonder Apple strives for in their products.
(There are subtle hints to teach you the gestures at first, and buttons as well, in case the gestures don't take.)
The new Loop Magazine and Glide achieve exactly what Jim and Chris set out to do. They not only raise the bar on Newsstand apps, but on content creation tools to power, and empower them.
"So, what do you think, Rene?" I think I have to figure out how the heavy metal ringtone got on my iPhone. I also think if you haven't tried the Loop Magazine yet, you should do so now. Jim's about to take you on one hell of a ride.
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