There is no doubt that the iPad is changing our perceptions of traditional media in profound ways. Apple’s innovative tablet has put news, information and entertainment quite literally at our fingertips. As a result, organizations that have been in the publishing and broadcasting business for a long time are now adapting to take advantage of this still relatively new technology. One of those organizations is National Geographic, which has just added a new feature to the digital version of its magazine that could very well be a glimpse into the future of interactive journalism.
Nat Geo was one of the first magazines to appear in digital form on the iPad and since its inception the electronic version has always offered unique features that set it apart from its print counterpart. Some of those features include embedded audio and video, interactive maps and enhanced photo galleries. But the latest digital issue of the magazine, which was released on Monday, introduced a new element know as “Field Test,” which will provide real time updates from various expeditions as they unfold. The first of those expeditions is an Everest climb that is underway now.
Seeing the Field Test in action is quite a revelation on the direction that digital magazines could be headed in the future. In addition to a series of traditional articles about the climbers and their attempt to summit Everest along the seldom-visited West Ridge, this interactive section includes daily expedition dispatches, a photo album that is automatically updated with new images as they are released and an indicator of current weather conditions in Base Camp. There is even a map of the route that shows the team’s location as they proceed up the mountain.
The entire package is very impressive and is definitely a unique way to keep a “magazine” current even after its release. The Field Test is a bit slow to update at times, but when it does complete its sync it provides fresh content that readers will enjoy coming back to on a regular basis, particularly if the expedition happens to be one of special interest to them. Apparently this technology isn’t just being used for the Everest expedition and it will become a monthly staple of the iPad version of National Geographic. Find out more by clicking here. [iTunes Link]
[Photo courtesy National Geographic]