Guilty Pleasure: I Enjoy Reading Airline Magazines – Hemispheres for the iPad

I don’t travel much anymore. But, there was a time in my life when this was not the case. I still remember one week when every dinner I ate was while in the air. And, while experiences like that make for somewhat entertaining stories, I do not miss those days at all. What I do sometimes miss, however, is pulling out the in-flight magazine during those long minutes of take-off or landing when all electronics must be turned off.

So, I was pleased and amused to learn that the combined United and Continental Airlines in-flight magazine is available as a free iPad app.

Hemispheres

The app looks like a replica of the paper magazine on the surface. However, it has a few interactive tricks that traditional magazine publishers should take a look at. Navigation, for example, is excellent with simple page turning indicators and a table of contents that slides out from the left whenever you want it. There’s an orange “links” indicator at the top left of pages that takes you to web pages related to items on that page. And, there are expanded photo and video content for some articles. Some photos have a Ken Burns-like pan and zoom-out quasi animation effect. A mini-review for a book about battery technology even includes a chapter excerpt. Turning the app to landscape viewing mode reveals a cover different from the one in portrait mode. And, the landscape viewing mode displays two pages at a time while one page is displayed in portrait mode.

All of these small touches add up to a quality e-magazine reading experience that is better than what I’ve seen in most of the conventional e-periodicals I’ve read on my iPad. Ironically, this app version of Hemispheres magazine cannot be read during take off and landings as the paper version can.