Newsstand, one of the new features of iOS 5, might not be much more than a filter for the App Store and a permanent folder that groups magazine and newspaper apps, but it's still a welcome addition, particularly for the iPad. Not only does Newsstand group your magazines and newspaper apps in one attractively designed folder, but it also promises automatic downloads of new issues for your subscriptions.
I love the iPad as a magazine reader, maybe even more than I love Super Stickman Golf. I've synced my magazine subscriptions to The New Yorker and Sports Illustrated and enjoy reading issues on the iPad for the digital extras and for the fact that it saves me from having to hunt around my house for the current issues. Newsstand is still a work in progress, but here's a quick overview on how it works.
When you first launch Newsstand, you'll be greeted with empty shelves. Tap the Store button to browse a filtered look of the App Store that includes magazines and newspapers. The selection is thin at present, but it should grow as more apps get updated and more publishers embrace Newsstand. For example, The New Yorker app was updated yesterday with Newsstand support, but not the Sports Illustrated app. I simply updated The New Yorker app and it was added to my shelf, but SI currently resides outside of Newsstand in its own, separate app.
Questions remain on when the auto download feature will start for your subscriptions. The New Yorker update makes no mention of this feature getting added. I suppose I'll need to wait until Monday when the new digital edition becomes available to see if it automatically shows up on my Newsstand shelf or if I will need to initiate the download.
From the Newsstand store, you can browse limited selections from redundant lists titled New and Noteworthy and What's Hot. Also, to search for a particular title, you are forced to leave the Newsstand app and enter the App Store by tapping one of the menu options--Featured, Top Charts, Categories, and so on--from the bottom of the screen. And to return to the Newsstand, you'll need to hit the start button to exit out of the App Store, which returns you to the home screen with the Newsstand app expanded.
You can rearrange the various periodicals on your Newsstand shelf in the same manner you move apps around on your iPad. Just tap and hold a magazine or newspaper until it starts to jiggle to drag it to another spot. And tapping on the jiggling X, of course, will delete it.
Lastly, you'll see that all of the magazine and newspaper apps are free. It's not until you sign up for a subscription or buy an individual issue that you'll be asked to pay.
For more on iOS 5 on the iPad, check out Donald Bell's post about all the changes in iOS 5 on the iPad.