When I first saw Snapchat’s new “Discover” feature, which includes video content from the likes of CNN and Yahoo, I didn’t get it. What did those videos have to do with the disappearing photos on which Snapchat was born? It reminded me of my early encounters with Twitter: How was a tweet different from a status update on Facebook?
New things can seem foreign at first. But that doesn’t mean they’re not designed to meet a need. I’ve watched my teenage son quickly warm to Snapchat’s videos, and I have become fully addicted to Twitter.
In that spirit, Fast Company released a new app this month for iPhone and iPad users that presents our content in a whole new way. The app combines real-time news feeds from our web properties—fastcompany.com, fastcocreate.com, fastcodesign.com, and fastcoexist.com—with print magazine content, plus a “Top Picks” channel, with stories selected by our editors. Created in partnership with Adobe, the app sits apart from traditional magazine offerings in the App Store (i.e., outside of Newsstand), so the content is a click or two closer for users than our existing (and still ongoing) iPad app for the monthly magazine.
I’m often asked for predictions about the future of mobile. The only certainty: The future will be different. We believe our new app provides a rich experience, and in beta testing (to a universe of 700 volunteers) feedback has been strongly positive. But we know this is just the beginning. The relationship between apps and mobile sites is in flux. We need to continually iterate on our content, in both form and substance, to remain relevant and useful to our readers. We need to provide better tools for those on Android and other non–iOS devices. Even our new app needs additional features that aren’t yet feasible on Adobe’s platform.
What we do know is that no tool or device will make up for subpar content. We aim to deliver articles you can’t get elsewhere, such as this issue’s features on Gap and Dropbox —which provide exclusive access to both the CEOs and their strategies—and our cover package on Steve Jobs, which challenges the prevailing narrative on Apple’s breakthrough success. Anchored by an excerpt from Becoming Steve Jobs, a terrific new book by executive editor Rick Tetzeli and contributing writer Brent Schlender, the package explains how step-by-step development has been critical to Apple. As design chief Jony Ive puts it, “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’s your future.”
We certainly learned a ton creating our new app. Please try it out. We’d like to get your input as we continue evolving our mobile future. Looking ahead is what makes working in this business so dynamic—and hopefully what makes reading about the companies and people we cover so engaging.