Posted in musings

BBC Good Food Magazine on the iPad – review

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Since owning the iPad, I’ve been wondering if it’s really a thing I have a use for. I’ve been wondering the same thing about my iPhone. The thing(s) are in my hands almost constantly, but I do wonder if I really need them, and once I got over the initial shock of not having it in my hand, I wonder if I would miss them.

I mostly use the iPad to read on. I don’t like it for writing, prefer my laptop for creating presentations and planning lessons, and don’t use it for video or photo editing. Partly that’s because I foolishly bought the 16GB version of the iPad. This means you’re essentially buying a big iPod touch and not anything you might use as a laptop substitute. It’s not big enough to store lots of photos, music, or video files. I don’t like either iPhoto or iMovie on the iPad, though perhaps I’d feel differently if I hadn’t used these types of software on other platforms.

(That said, I don’t really like iMovie or iPhoto on my laptop anymore. I quite like Keynote on my laptop, and iBooks Author, but I’m increasingly out of love with Apple software.)

Anyway, I’m not a big game player, though my kids love the iPad for games. I haven’t used it much for watching iPlayer or similar, haven’t needed to, which leaves it as a glorified book reading device. Even for that, it’s a bit too heavy for comfortable reading.

I’m using it now, to type this, but with an Apple bluetooth keyboard that’s been sitting in a shoe box next to my bed, virtually unused, for months on end. I’m playing music through it, too, onto a little bluetooth speaker I bought at Xmas. But there’s not much music on it, apart from stuff that accidentally appears.

Which brings me, via the scenic route, to the BBC Good Food Magazine. I’ve looked at a few magazines on the iPad. Tap! was one, and my wife had a couple of French ones. The verdict was, as the French say, *bof*. Not as much pleasure to read as a real magazine, and not sufficiently different to make it a different kind of experience. Some people don’t really understand the problem of magazines on the iPad. Their first complaint is always that an electronic version of something shouldn’t cost as much as the print version. But this is to misunderstand how expensive a decent iPad version is to produce. A PDF version of the print thing is not what you want, but nor do you want something with too many bells and whistles. As I’ve been creating ebooks using iBooks Author, I’m all too aware that too much multimedia content leads to massive files, and no end user wants to wait half an hour for something they’re only vaguely interested in to start with. So an iPad version of something has to give you rich retina-resolution graphics, readable text, and a means of navigation that doesn’t involve too much faff to get where you want.

I think BBC Good Food has hit upon a good solution. It’s £1 cheaper than the print version, which I don’t personally think is sustainable, but we’ll see. You flick through the pages, seeing beautiful food photography. If you like the look of something, you tap a target and it flips the page round to show the ingredients and method. That on its own is pretty good. If you want to try the recipe, you can tap the shopping list button, and the ingredients are automatically added to a list. Keep going through the magazine and you can add more ingredients to your list, and then when you’re done you can email the list to yourself.

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They haven’t solved the duplicate item problem, but that’s not so hard to do. (I personally added the emailed items to my Quicky shopping list app on the iPhone, which sorted that easily.)

The Good Food Magazine app also has a useful “Cook” button, because they’ve clearly thought through the problem of reading a recipe from your iPad screen while you’re in the kitchen and are not at a comfortable reading distance. As you start, you can tap the Cook button and the text is zoomed to a bigger size so you can read the screen without bending down. It would be perfect if there was a voice command to get it to flip through to the next stage, for cases where you have gunk on your fingers.

Anyway, it’s the first magazine on the iPad I thought was actually an improvement on the print version, and is actually worth a subscription. Recommended.

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World famous writer labouring in obscurity. My other blog is a Porsche.