Zinio app brings magazines to iPhones...and perhaps iSlates?

Like the Kindle app before it, Zinio may encourage iPhone and iPod Touch owners to read on the go. It may also play a big part in Apple's rumored tablet.

Digital-magazine publisher Zinio just released an eponymous app for the iPhone and iPod Touch (iTunes link), meaning you can now read electronic editions of Automobile, PC Magazine, Popular Science, and other pubs on the go.

Very interesting timing, no? It can't be a coincidence that the app arrives mere weeks before the iTablet, iSlate, iPad, or whatever Apple calls the product it's announcing later this month .

After all, many magazine publishers are looking to tablets as their savior, a way to keep their voice and content alive while eliminating the traditional costs of publishing. Look no further than this Sports Illustrated proof-of-concept video that made the rounds last month.

Zinio, for its part, has been around for years, but until now your only decent option for reading its e-content was a PC screen--not a comfortable or convenient experience. Indeed, I let my PC Magazine subscription lapse (the magazine went all-digital last year) simply because I didn't like reading it on my monitor.

But on my iPhone? That's where I do most of my leisure reading these days anyway. ( Kindle app , I love you. You too, Regator .)

The Zinio app does exactly what a magazine reader should: reproduces each page of the print edition (which you can zoom and scroll through, much like you would a PDF), but also provides an iPhone-friendly reading mode that reflows the text to fit the confines of the screen.

The Zinio app displays magazine pages in their native format (right) or as reformatted text for easy reading. Zinio

On top of that, Zinio includes embedded videos (in certain magazines), hyperlinks, article sharing, and other electronic amenities that print can't match. Plus, you can buy subscriptions and individual issues from within the app, though downloads require a Wi-Fi connection. (Thankfully, there's an offline reading option.)

Currently, only about a dozen titles are available for the app, but because the Zinio library encompasses thousands of magazines, it's a sure bet more will follow.

Even if the Apple tablet doesn't materialize in a few weeks, I'm already sold on the idea of reading magazines electronically--as long as the experience is this good. Grab the free app (which includes sample issues of PC Magazine and Viv) and see if you agree.

 

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