Symbolia will debut this fall on the iPad, and building its foundation has been an exciting process. Early on, I spent a lot of time researching aesthetics and UI to see what lessons I could apply to Symbolia. I downloaded many, many magazines and media-related apps to pinpoint strategic hits and misses. I’ve downloaded apps that have innovative design and terrible content, magazines of all shapes and sizes, and too many comic books to count.

For my first NWME blog, I thought I would share some of my favorite apps and tablet magazines. These publications aren’t perfect, but as early innovators in the tablet space, they are pretty inspiring.

If you’re following this blog, chances are that you either love comics, tablets, visual journalism, or all three. You might also know that discoverability in iTunes and Newsstand is an abysmal process. Finding innovative content can be difficult (if not near-impossible). I’m here to help you steer clear of my early mistakes. Please enjoy the following list of outlets and apps that have inspired me as I build Symbolia from the ground up.

  • Once Magazine is an amazing magazine for photojournalism and is only on the iPad. Their coverage is thoughtful, simple to interact with, and has great international scope. Once inspired me to think about comics + journalism on the iPad, and I’m excited to see what they do next.
  • The Unlimited mixes fashion and design with high-concept interactive layouts. While I’m not a huge fan of the anorexic models, some of the design, layouts, and interactive are really, really fun.
  • The British Journal of Photography focused on the craft of photography, and the print edition was founded in 18524. It’s really cool to see a legacy media outlet tackle tablet content with such verve. I’m especially interested in the innovative advertising that BJP’s iPad edition features. The ads here are very much in service to readers, rather than obtrusive. For other cool legacy media on the tablet, make sure to check out the iPad edition of National Geographic.
  • Installation is arts journalism for a new era. It makes visual art tactile and interactive–and is the very opposite of a stodgy museum or gallery setting. Paintings, photographs, and other multi-media works feel immediate, relevant, and personal. While this publication is still finding its editorial voice, the visual content is wonderful.
  • Comixology is hands-down the easiest way to read comics on any tablet. While I think Panelfly has a better visual experience, Comixology has been able to broker deals with comics publishers that run the spectrum, from indy enclaves like Top Shelf to DC and Marvel. Their inventory is unmatched, and they have apps for many mobile and tablet operating systems.

I’m always looking for new recommendations, so please feel free to share your favorites! Tweet recommendations to @erinpolgreen, or @symboliamag.