You don't have to be a child to enjoy Anorak Magazine
The publication showcases some of the finest artists and illustrators alongside fun and informative words. It's the perfect combination, which has now come to iPhone and iPod touch.
Macworld caught up with Cathy Olmedillas, founder of Anorak and iPhone developer On-Sea, to find out more.
Q. What makes Anorak Magazine stand out from the crowd?
Anorak Magazine is unique in many ways. It is a quarterly pop culture magazine aimed at kids, whether boys or girls and with a broad age range - 5 to 10 years olds. We cover a vast range of subjects, whether it is stories, fashion, places to go, games etc. Just that makes it different to any other kids magazines. Its art direction by Supermundane makes it stand out too.
Q. And was developing an iPhone application a logical step even though many of readers are children?
Sort of. It was an exciting step too. We knew kids played on their parents’ iTouches and iPhones when on the go, because well, that’s what our kids do!
When On-Sea, the developers, mentioned that some of Anorak content could become interactive we became very excited about the possibilities.
While Anorak Magazine is firmly aimed at kids, it is picked up by parents and we know from the feedback we get from our readers that the whole family reads it. It seemed that the iPhone/iTouch met these criteria too, i.e. it's a versatile platform that a whole family interacts with.
Q. Do you think the iPhone, and perhaps more likely the iPod touch, can be a useful educational tool?
We think that generally any creative medium can be useful educationally. iTouch and iPhone apps are primarily entertainment-based at the moment, but if whilst being entertained during a long journey kids learn something from our app or any other apps, that's something invaluable.
We don't think it will replace the knowledge kids get from teachers and books, but we believe play and creativity can - and should - play a huge role in education.
Q. What can the iPhone platform offer that traditional print content can't?
The attraction with the iPhone for a traditional publisher is that your content can expand its wings and truly become interactive in a cost effective way. It allows you to think differently from a creative perspective, because it involves full sensorial experiences. That’s completely mind-blowing.
From the perspective of a small indie publisher like us, the iPhone platform is a truly global platform with a truly global audience. To get that sort of potential reach for a small business like ours would take years to establish.
Q. What challenges did the designer and developers face creating work for a relatively small screen?
We knew On-Sea understood Anorak Magazine because they read it and they have kids; so we knew we would get an app that was close to the magazine’s spirit and in tune with how kids interact with the iPhone.
There didn’t seem to be any great obstacles, except when we did our colouring-in pages: Supermundane’s artwork is very detailed and those small details didn’t work too well on a small format. On-Sea isolated some of the components of the artwork to make it work.
Alisdair from On Sea adds:
The aim of the app was to create something that kept the unique character of the magazine but also felt native to the device. Fitting the print-based artwork of the magazine to the device screen presented an opportunity to use the touch screen of the device to overcome the difference in print and screen dimensions.
Q. Will 'Happy' be the start of a series of regular Anorak iPhone apps?
This is the first chapter in many we hope. Now that we have seen what we can do, we are overflowing with ideas! We are hoping to bring out updates as often as we possibly can with our small budgets and a small team, with new stories to read and new games to play. I see Anorak the app becoming its own project with its own editorial & life.
Q. And do you see a day when iPhone versions of magazines will be published alongside traditional print titles?
I personally can’t read a magazine on screen, so I hope screen-based reading won’t replace print titles! My gut feeling is that no platform will replace another. Each new piece of media takes its own place in someone’s life. I think the traditional media should embrace the amazing capabilities of the iPhone/itouch platform to engage, inform and inspire people.
At the end everything is about the quality of content, whether online on the phone or in a newspaper, so provided that’s kept at the forefront of the publishers and developers minds things can only get more and more interesting.
Q. Finally, what can we expect from Anorak magazine in the near future?
In the very near future we have our 13th issue coming out at the end of the month. We have been approached to publish Anorak in a foreign language and we are finalising the contract and the logistics of that at the moment. That will be for 2010.
(Available from the Apple iTunes App Store, Anorak Magazine's Happy application costs £1.19 and requires the iPhone 3.0 Software Update or later.)