Subscription services are definitely one of the biggest things right now. Think Spotify and Netflix – all the music and television box sets you could possibly want in one place, available whenever and wherever you want thanks to your smartphone or tablet. And now we have Readly – the newest subscription service – offering access to over 400 weekly and monthly magazine titles for one recurring fee.
Once you’ve paid your money – currently £9.99 per month – you have access to any and all of the titles available within the app. You can read them online or download a whole magazine to read offline later – particularly useful if you’re going on a journey or abroad where you can’t use wifi. It takes a couple of minutes to download a magazine, and that is then saved until you choose to delete it (or you let your subscription lapse).
The choice of magazines isn’t bad at all. There’s a range of genres – art, automotive, business, computers, entertainment, fashion, food, health, lifestyle, music, news, sport, travel and women’s interest to name just a few of the categories. I’ve been reading Cycling Weekly, Amateur Photographer, Delicious, F1 Racing, Women’s Running, the Beano and NME amongst others. There are some notable exceptions; I couldn’t find Trail Magazine, BBC Music, Bike or T3 in the catalogue, for example, but I have been told that as the readership grows more titles will be added to the choice already available.
You can use one Readly account on up to five devices, which is useful if you are a multi-tablet family and only want to pay for one subscription. There are iOS, Android, Windows 8 and Kindle Fire version of the app making it one of the few cross-platform apps around – I’m so pleased to see this. Readly is definitely best on a tablet, though. I installed it on my iPhone 5 but really it is way too small and doesn’t make for pleasant reading, especially not for any length of time. I say don’t bother at all on your smartphone, but get this on your iPad and you’ll be happy.
The versions of the magazines that you get in Readly are effectively PDFs; an electronic copy of the paper magazine available from your local newsagent. Any html links work so you can tap on them and open the relevant page, but that’s as interactive as they get. I have read iOS versions of magazines that do way more, offering something tailored to the iPad, but that isn’t what you’re getting here. It is a shame, as there are loads of funky things that can be done with app versions of magazines, but if you look at Readly for what it is then I get it. This is simply a way to carry round a whole load of magazines to read without actually having to carry them.
I liken it in small part to the difference owning a Kindle makes to reading lots of books on holiday; you carry one thing and get to read several books, taking up less space in your case and costing you less money. Readly allows you to have access to lots of magazine titles – including a significant back catalogue for many titles – without actually having to carry any. Yes I know reading on a tablet is not as tactile as the real thing, but consider the weight of your bag when on a long journey, especially if that includes a flight – no extra weight from heavy paper, and so much better for trees.
I really like this app. It is very simple to use and the magazines are easy to read on my iPad 2 screen. You can pinch to zoom like in any other app to get larger text, very easily navigate past the pages of advertisements with the usual swiping gestures, and bookmark articles you really enjoy or want to go back to another time without having to keep a load of magazines in your bedroom.
The cost for a full unlimited subscription is £9.99 per month – what’s that, about three magazines? If you enjoy reading magazines, and the titles you like are in the catalogue (you can see what’s available on the website), then Readly is ideal.