Panna is an iOS-based “video magazine” app by How 2 Media. It’s available now as a free download from the App Store, though individual issues must be acquired via in-app purchase. Alternatively, users may purchase a year’s subscription for $14.99. The app was recently featured as the Editor’s Choice app for the week, helping to bring it more exposure.
Panna is a cooking magazine that offers 11 or 12 different recipes with each of its issues, each of which includes an instructional video of the chef preparing and explaining the recipe along with full text-based instructions guiding the user through the preparation of the dish. Each issue of the magazine focuses on a particular theme — at the time of writing, there are three issues available, focusing on themes of Thanksgiving, “winter indulgence” and cultural specialisms. Each issue has a preview page where the user may examine the recipes available within, and even see a short preview video and description of each recipe. Purchasing the issue unlocks immediate access to the full recipes, though a single recipe from each issue is available in full for free.
Individual recipes — including the video — may be downloaded to the user’s device for offline viewing. Specific recipes may also be marked as favorites, and users may take photos of their attempts at the various dishes. Users may also add all the items required to make a particular recipe to a shopping list facility that is built in to the app, so it’s possible to plan a complete meal and determine all the needed ingredients using just Panna. Recipes may also be shared on Facebook or via email, though in the case of Facebook, this shares little more than an image and an “I just cooked this recipe!” brag post. Sharing by email, however, shares the complete recipe along with links to download Panna from the App Store.
Panna is a very good app. It’s well designed, attractive to look at and works well on both iPhone and iPad. It’s also very clear up front that despite being a free download, full access to all the recipes will require either purchasing individual issues or a year’s subscription. There’s an interesting disparity between reactions to this app between U.S. and U.K. App Store reviewers — in the U.S. the app has received a healthy number of five-star ratings praising its high-quality content and ease of use; in the U.K. meanwhile, the app has been “review bombed” with one-star ratings from reviewers complaining about the in-app purchases. There’s really very little more than the Panna team could have done to manage user expectations beyond their App Store description — it’s clear that some users simply didn’t read it thoroughly before downloading. On a more serious note, some users have complained of the app crashing and not working correctly, though I encountered no issues with it during testing, even when deliberately turning off the Internet connection to test offline functionality.
On the whole then, Panna is not only a good app for “foodies” to discover new dishes and how to cook them, but it’s also a good example of how the magazine model can work well on digital devices with dedicated (non-Newsstand) apps. By allowing users a comprehensive preview of the content as well as giving away part of that content for free, Panna gives its readers confidence that they will not be wasting their money. It’s a model that could easily be applied to a variety of other subject matter, and it’s something which should be looked at very seriously by other digital content providers.
You can follow Panna’s progress with AppData, our tracking service for mobile and social apps and developers.