Popular Mechanics to Launch Abridged Mag App

Hearst’s Popular Mechanics is the latest magazine to launch a version for the Apple iPad, but readers who want to view the complete magazine on the device will have to wait.

Pop Mech chose to launch with a scaled-down “showcase” version that is a forerunner of the monthly magazine app that it expects to bring out later this year. At $1.99, the app is priced commensurately with its scaled back contents. Pop Mech execs said they haven’t determined what they’ll charge for the forthcoming monthly app.

The Pop Mech app is one of several that Hearst is developing for its magazines for anticipated release in the coming months, and is its first completely homegrown one. All of Hearst’s magazines already are available in digital format via third-party publisher Zinio’s platform, and Hearst is using an outside firm, ScrollMotion, to develop its own app for Esquire.

For a magazine with a tech bent, Pop Mech went surprisingly low-tech with its app; the iPad version has a similar look and feel to the print magazine, and the reader moves through the app with horizontal swipes meant to mimic the print reading experience.

“We didn’t make reading an afterthought,” editor in chief Jim Meigs said in an interview in which he demonstrated the app.

The app takes advantage of some of the bells and whistles enabled by the iPad, though. There’s an article about a man in a flying suit that’s brought to life by a video that simulates his flight; 3-D, step-by-step instructions for building a table; and an interactive, animated earthquake tracker.

The minimalist nature helps keep the app’s size at a quickly downloadable 27 megabytes, which will go up to as high as 100 once the full version comes out. But that’s still far below the much-ballyhooed Wired app, which comes in at a hefty 500-plus megabytes.

Unlike some existing magazine apps, Pop Mech’s also has a feature that enables readers to copy and share content to their social network accounts.