Let’s start with a spoiler alert: The next issue of Fast Company‘s print magazine will feature a dramatic reinterpretation of Steve Jobs. Anchored by excerpts from a terrific new book, Becoming Steve Jobs, the issue will explain how step-by-step iterative development has been critical to Apple’s success, challenging the prevailing narrative on Apple’s visionary breakthroughs. As Apple design chief Jony Ive told coauthors Brent Schlender and Rick Tetzeli, “I’ve always thought that there are a number of things that you have achieved at the end of a project. There’s the object, the actual product itself. And then there’s all that you learned [in creating that product]. What you learned is as tangible as the product but much more valuable, because that is your future.”
At Fast Company we’ve adopted a similar perspective in terms of our own products. As the editor-in-chief, I am repeatedly asked to predict what the future of media will be like. The truth is, I have no idea. But one thing is certain: Media will look far different than it does today. We need to continually iterate on our content, in both form and substance, if we want to remain relevant and useful to our readers.
Which is why, when we were approached by Adobe a year ago about collaborating on a new format for magazine apps, we embraced the opportunity. The process has helped us hone our understanding of mobile usage practices and mobile design tools. And this week, we’ve released the first fruit from that learning on the App Store. This new Fast Company app integrates our monthly magazine content with real-time feeds from our web properties—fastcompany.com, fastcodesign.com, fastcocreate.com, and fastcoexist.com—plus adds a new editorial layer: an “our picks” channel, selected by the editors.
Our motivation for this new app is simple: While we’re proud of our existing (and still ongoing) iPad app for the monthly magazine, the readership remains small compared with the volume of users who access our content on the web and via their phones. Why not offer those users a unified app-based experience that lives on both iPad and iPhone? The new app does not sit within Apple’s Newsstand, so the content can be a click or two closer for users. And the app and all its content is being offered free to consumers at launch.
In our beta testing—to a universe of 700 volunteers—the feedback on the experience and the content was strongly positive. As the app is opened up to wider users, we’ll learn more. We believe this app provides a step forward for our users, a better experience for iPhone and iPad users than they can get elsewhere. We also know that this is just the beginning, that the relationship between apps and mobile sites is still evolving, that we need to provide better tools for those on Android and other non-iOs devices, that even our fresh-from-the-gate app needs additional features that aren’t feasible on Adobe’s platform yet, but will be in the months ahead.
I encourage you to try out the new app, and to share your feedback and experiences with us. We’d like to hear from all sides. As consumers, our interactions with and expectations of content are in constant flux. That’s what makes working in this business so dynamic—and hopefully what makes reading about the companies and people we cover so engaging. In the end, we know that no tool or device will make up for subpar content. But we also know that even the best content can be overlooked or missed if it isn’t presented in a user-friendly, convenient format.
I would be remiss if I didn’t specifically thank the design and dev teams at Fast Company, who put so much into experimenting on this project, as well as those who will be involved in the day-to-day execution and iterations that will bring the app to life. And of course a thank-you to our partners at Adobe, who are committed to creating a next-generation tool for publishers that enables all of our best content to connect to audiences in a simple, cost-effective and modern way.