Google Play Magazines was unveiled at Google I/O 2012, and to be honest, I completely ignored that announcement. I used to read a lot of magazines, but I just forgot about them. They started piling up without me having any time. As any good nerd, I simply spent too much time at the computer and couldn’t manage to tear away from technology long enough to read a full magazine. So why should I care about magazines on the Play Store? I’ve lost the will to read magazines, haven’t I?
I slowly began to realize the error of my ways. I love using my tablet. It’s not a necessary device (and there has been nothing that has changed my mind about that), but it is a fun device. It is a pleasure to use, more so than a computer. Touch screens feel natural, and the small and very light form factor (especially on the Galaxy Tab 10.1) make it easier to use than a laptop in bed. So when I’m just lying around, too lazy to get up, I grab my tablet.
Then it hit me. This is a magazine that is synced across my Android tablet and Android phone. Whenever I’m bored and don’t feel like playing a game on my phone (and watching my battery drain faster than a high flow toilet), I could just open a magazine (like Popular Science). When I’m in bed, I could start exactly where I left off on my phone. It would not only alleviate my boredom (of endlessly refreshing Facebook and XDA), but it would give me a chance to read about things I love. This is killing two birds with one stone. However, there is one problem.
Extended reading on an LCD panel is painful, whether it’s a computer, tablet, or phone (especially a phone). Reading on an e-paper display (a la Kindle, Nook, or Sony Reader) is a pleasure. The new Sony Readers are Android-based (and yes, they can be rooted and hacked, I’ve done it for a few people), but they don’t have the Play Store. I don’t know of a way to get Magazines working either, and I’m sure there won’t be a way. And making an e-reader would not be wise for Google, as most of their services wouldn’t work on them. So there is no way to read the magazines on a screen without a backlight, nor will there be in the near future.
Of course, another big issue is photos. E-paper displays are black and white. There are color e-paper displays, but they’re not exactly ready for customers. The technology will get there, and when it does, someone will make a Google-based e-reader. Everything is going digital, and for someone like me, some things can only be enjoyed through digital means. Is it sad? Yes, the old ways are dying fast and many of us are becoming slaves to technology. But is it a bad thing? It saves a lot of paper, saves the cost and gas of delivery, is cheaper for the publisher, and easier for us to digest.
So will I be subscribing to a magazine or two on Google Play? Sure! I want to read magazines, and this gives me both a reason and a chance. Is it perfect? No, my eyes are going to hate me for staring into an LCD panel for so long (oh wait, I never get off the computer anyway, never mind!). But it’s the best solution available, and I suggest you think about it too.