You are here

SOS App limitations and restrictions

For feedback and suggestions about the SOS magazine, app, web site or forums.

SOS App limitations and restrictions

Postby Chris Barker » Wed Mar 15, 2017 6:42 pm

Hi,

I am a very long time subscriber to SOS in print form and more recently in electronic Tablet/Computer form. I switched to Tablet form because my house is a mess of piles of print magazines and I hoped I could reduce this clutter.

You have recently updated your app and because of this I am having trouble reading your magazine where I want to because of your limitations?

For example, I would sometimes peruse an SOS article in the Starbucks line on my Galaxy S7 android phone. I am now told by your app and confirmed by your staff that you no longer support android devices that are less than some certain size and so phones are not supported and tough toenails to you!

I also like to use a Kindle Fire HD as a reading device and as far as I can tell you have abandoned this android platform?

I also have Windows computers and Windows tablets and you do not have an app in the Microsoft Store and don't seem to support Windows at all except via a browser but I think you charge yet another license for the Web version?

Sheesh, you really make it tough for a motivated subscriber to read your product?

What I don't understand is that I can subscribe to all my other magazines using either Zinio or PocketMags and they have apps that work everywhere?. They even have an online Web based reader I can access as part of my account - not a separate fee.

Why has SOS chosen to go it's own way separate from the industry norm to give access to their customers? It really is frustrating and only makes me wonder why I should continue to subscribe given the hurdles SOS puts in front of me.

Please rethink your strategy.

Thanks.

-CB
Chris Barker
Posts: 2
Joined: Wed Mar 03, 2004 1:00 am
Location: Kensington, MD, USA

Re: SOS App limitations and restrictions

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Wed Mar 15, 2017 8:11 pm

Hello Chris,

Thanks for your feedback. I've flagged your post to both Ian Gilby and Paul Gilby (the owner/chairman and New Media Director, respectively) directly, so hopefully they will be along soon to explain the situation and reasoning for providing the options we do in detail, and for not going down the zinio route.

In the meantime, my understanding is that the Kindle support was withdrawn because there were very few subscribers to that format, yet it involved a great deal of additional preparation work each month for our graphics team... so it wasn't cost-effective to continue.

Regarding the web-access, it's worth noting that all articles/reviews etc on the website are free to access once they are more than 5 months old. To access the current material via the web we offer both individual and various combination subscriptions, as you know.

If web-access would suit you better, given the frustrations you're having with the android and kindle tablet access, it may be possible to come up with a bespoke deal for you -- please contact Luci on the subscriptions phone/email (see the contacts page) and discuss the situation. We obviously want to keep our loyal subscribers as happy as we can, and we do recognise that the recent app change has, unfortunately, inconvenienced some people.

H
User avatar
Hugh Robjohns
Moderator
Posts: 24605
Joined: Fri Jul 25, 2003 12:00 am
Location: Worcestershire, UK
Technical Editor, Sound On Sound

Re: SOS App limitations and restrictions

Postby Forum Admin » Thu Mar 16, 2017 5:53 pm

Hi Chris

Apologies you feel about us the way you do. We're a very small team of dedicated folks who juggle way too many balls and the recent changeover in App hosting company and developer hasn't been as smooth as we'd have wished for our customers (and us picking up the support tickets).

The SOS app up until 23rd December 2016 was hosted by and built using Adobe software/servers. Adobe had already pulled the plug on Kindle support 12 months earlier and it technically became impossible to produce a Kindle version from that point forwards. No new issues for Kindle were produced, but Adobe allowed the back issues to still be hosted on their entitlement server.

The new development company we moved to in December also did not offer Kindle support, so we can no longer offer it.

As to Zinio, well when SOS first dabbled with digital editions back in 2011 we tried Zinio but disliked the fact it was based on a PDF rendition of the magazine pages, and users were forced to slide columns of text about to read an article. So we found a solution from Adobe's Digital Publishing Suite and set about designing our own layout (initially DPS only supported iPads) and we launched that service with the January 2012 digital issue.

We also didn't like the fact that, back then, Zinio tablet issues were standalone and there was no means to integrate our user accounts with customer accounts on Zinio, making it very hard to offer 'bundles'. Times have changed since 2012 but once we'd invested time and money into producing a fabulous (Adobe-based) app format that garnered high praise from users, we simply did not and still do not have the manpower and spare production time to produce multiple different formats to work with different 'digital issue' kiosk solutions like Zinio. We already produce 2 US and 2 UK variants every issue, and are rebuilding the past issues to work with the new app format (but this has to be fitted into gaps after current issue production has completed).

We're constantly re-evaluating our Subscription offerings and looking for better ways to do things, and our new platform developer is too. Some of the options you've hit upon might well come to fruition and discussions with their tech team are underway.

Of course we don't want unhappy subscribers, but if you can no longer view issues on the Kindle nor on your Android smartphone, and do not have an Android tablet to use, then you are entitled to a refund or we can swap you to a different subs option. Let me know via a Private Message (click the envelope icon next to my avatar).

Ian G
User avatar
Forum Admin
Moderator
Posts: 3087
Joined: Mon Jul 21, 2003 11:00 pm
Location: A studio deep in the fenlands of Cambridgeshire, UK
SEARCH SOS 10,811 articles: www.soundonsound.com/search
Get FREE Full Issue PDF Digital Mag: https://sosm.ag/FreePDF

Re: SOS App limitations and restrictions

Postby Chris Barker » Tue Mar 21, 2017 5:25 pm

Thanks for all the replies and "inside baseball" as we call it on this side of the Atlantic.

Unfortunately, none of it really addresses the flaws in your current offerings from my vantage point. First, Android was and is still primarily a phone operating system. If you don't support Android phones IMHO you don't support Android. I have a nearly 6 inch screen on my Galaxy S7 Edge I can easily read all sorts of content. There is something like a billion and counting Android phones. Not supporting that user base seems like publishing suicide to me?

Also, you don't have any solution beyond a web page for Windows users. If you use Windows devices like a Surface in tablet mode, there is no way to offline read your product. Another billion or so users without a solution.

From my vantage point your publishing decisions are an outlier and the only magazine that I can't easily access wherever I want to. You mention your problems with Zinio but you do not mention Pocketmags? I see other British mags like HiFi-News on Pocketmags?

I will conclude that I realize you can do what ever you want but I find it very frustrating to keep reading your content with so many restrictions that I don't have with any other magazine I care to read.

Thanks.

-CB
Chris Barker
Posts: 2
Joined: Wed Mar 03, 2004 1:00 am
Location: Kensington, MD, USA

Re: SOS App limitations and restrictions

Postby Paul Gilby » Tue Apr 04, 2017 5:59 pm

Continuing this conversation.
I have emailed this reply direct to Chris but thought forum users would also like to read it.
......................

Hi Chris,

I'm the New Media Director so I'm in charge of our digital publishing strategy. I've just read your reply to our support team and decided to pick up this ball ! (Forum users note the message to SOS Support was similar to Chris's message in this thread).

I appreciate you've posted in our forum and now submitted this comment to Support so I do take your opinion seriously and I hope my reply answers your points.

What you say makes perfect sense and I don't disagree with you at all. We do have plans to publish across as many platforms as we can, but we've been trying to do it in an integrated way so that our readers can have one account and subscribe to Print, Tablet and Web and read on any device rather than having several accounts with different media suppliers. That's the goal.

The problem is that we are reliant on third-party App suppliers whose product solutions have not always delivered what we expected. We were using the Adobe Digital Publishing Suite for several years. It started as iPad only, then they added Android tablet, then the phone. That was followed by Kindle and then Windows as a beta.

In the past two years Adobe dropped Kindle and Windows stayed in beta, and then they ceased further development of the PDF authoring feature and pushed everyone to author as HTML5.

They also, cut-off earlier iOS and Android OS versions and then started to re-conceive the whole digital edition and morphed it into a mobile marketing system aimed at high-end corporate brands who wish to geo-target content in a fast-moving dynamic way, not a monthly edition way. It's become more brochure-orientated than magazine. Effectively, Adobe turned their back on the origins of DPS that started as an tablet magazine authoring system. The price also tripled! So, as you can appreciate, this rather messed up our plans as we were at the mercy of a big company that started to head off in a different direction.

We therefore decided enough was enough, and in December last year we moved to Twixl. This is another app developer who offer a near like-for-like solution to Adobe. In fact many small publishers like us have jumped ship from Adobe to Twixl.

The effort required to make this transition has taken up a lot of our graphics department time, as we needed to learn a new authoring system and re-publish as many back issues of the magazine as we could prior to the December launch. Back issues continue to be on-going tasks as it takes some time to build each one. And, there's a UK and US edition to create per month.

In order to hit our launch date we had to be realistic about what we could achieve in a short timescale. That meant focusing on the majority of our subscribers who are, in fact, iPad users. Android only account for maybe 5%-10%. So, we authored an Android tablet version but not a phone version as we just did not have time to do it. Moreover, Twixl currently has, at a beta development stage, a new app which will launch later this year enabling cross-platform and responsive design for all devices. You'll also be glad to know the page pinch-zoom function will return.

I had to take a pragmatic decision because we needed to move fast and only had a limited amount of manpower available to make the change. Also, this is very much a temporary stepping-stone solution as we wait for Twixl to release the cross-platform, responsive design app which will also work on desktop computer web browsers too!

All in all, we believe that the future app will deliver a better reading experience on more devices, both mobile and desktop, and -- importantly -- it is integrated into our print magazine subscription system. That's something you cannot do with Zinio's page-turning PDF based magazines.

In conclusion, we may appear to have, in your words, "a flawed" strategy but I would disagree. What we have is a strategy that is in motion as we transition from an old solution to a new and far better one. Unfortunately it has impacted on some subscribers harder than others but I can assure you there's a team of people at SOS working as fast as possible to achieve our goal and get us all to a better place.

Regards
Paul Gilby
User avatar
Paul Gilby
Moderator
Posts: 85
Joined: Thu Mar 02, 2000 1:00 am
Location: Cambridge UK.

Re: SOS App limitations and restrictions

Postby Geoff Grace » Mon May 08, 2017 10:57 am

I'd like to add to the conversation from the perspective of another longtime subscriber (since 1995) and current iPad user.

My hope is that the new format will improve for us too. Currently, it pales in several significant ways in comparison to the old one. Most importantly, the starting over motif is one that echos through each repeated use of the magazine. For example—unlike the Adobe format—the new format fails to save the place from the last time the issue was opened, forcing a several step process to navigate to the table of contents, look up the article, click on its link, and then scroll down to the appropriate paragraph. Additionally, each page takes seconds to display, despite having downloaded the entire issue. Finally, downloaded issues become purged automatically every few days for some unknown reason, forcing a fresh download.

I subscribe to several other digital editions of your competitors' magazines as well, and the experience of using your app has gone from best to worst of your class. Fortunately for you, your content is still the best, which encourages me to stick with you while you work out the kinks.

You have my sympathy for the difficulty you face enduring the changes in the marketplace. My hope is that Sound On Sound will continue to set the bar for excellence for many years to come.

Best,

Geoff
Geoff Grace
Posts: 2
Joined: Mon May 08, 2017 10:32 am
Location: Los Angeles, California, United States

Re: SOS App limitations and restrictions

Postby Forum Admin » Mon May 08, 2017 12:08 pm

Geoff Grace wrote:My hope is that the new format will improve for us too.

Thanks for your feedback Geoff, and welcome to the forum. We're pushing the new platform developers all the time to add missing benefits, but you must appreciate unfortunately we are not their masters and they serve their overall community of publishers.

Currently, it pales in several significant ways in comparison to the old one.

Agreed, but it was the most suited for our in-house production workflow and back office systems, when we very quickly had to find a replacement for Adobe.

...unlike the Adobe format—the new format fails to save the place from the last time the issue was opened, forcing a several step process to navigate to the table of contents, look up the article, click on its link, and then scroll down to the appropriate paragraph.

Or you can use the Bookmark (ribbon) button on the page you are reading when you depart that issue, and tap the TOC/Bookmarks (book) icon and tap the bookmark to return to where you left off?

Additionally, each page takes seconds to display, despite having downloaded the entire issue.

SOS has far more pages than our competitor magazines, anyway, but the tablet versions use larger fonts and thus have more sub-pages as well, all of which makes for a larger load-in. It's also dependent on the speed of your tablet's processor to a degree.

Finally, downloaded issues become purged automatically every few days for some unknown reason, forcing a fresh download.

Geoff, we've not encountered this problem ourselves on the iPads we test with and use every day. I've just checked and it's not been previously reported to us in the Support portal. The only time already-downloaded issues disappear is if you delete the SOS App; if you upgrade it to a newer app version, it retains the downloaded content. Tapping the Manage Issues link on the 'burger' menu icon (top-left) will tell you what issues are currently on your device.

If you are someone who fills up their iPad regularly, then perhaps the device is ditching older content when it requires space?
User avatar
Forum Admin
Moderator
Posts: 3087
Joined: Mon Jul 21, 2003 11:00 pm
Location: A studio deep in the fenlands of Cambridgeshire, UK
SEARCH SOS 10,811 articles: www.soundonsound.com/search
Get FREE Full Issue PDF Digital Mag: https://sosm.ag/FreePDF

Re: SOS App limitations and restrictions

Postby The Elf » Mon May 08, 2017 3:55 pm

Paul Gilby wrote:You'll also be glad to know the page pinch-zoom function will return.
:thumbup: :clap:

You guys really have been up against it, and have graciously taken every beating here in patient good grace. Time for us to say 'thank you' and give you a bit of understanding, I'd say.
User avatar
The Elf
Jedi Poster
Posts: 12734
Joined: Tue Aug 14, 2001 12:00 am
Location: Sheffield, UK
An Eagle for an Emperor, A Kestrel for a Knave.

Re: SOS App limitations and restrictions

Postby Geoff Grace » Mon May 08, 2017 10:01 pm

I apologize if it seemed like I was here to deliver a beating. While I am admittedly repeatedly frustrated by the experience of using the app, my support for the magazine itself is unwavering. In fact, I just renewed despite the quality of the app because the quality of the writing is unparalleled.

Forum Admin wrote:
Geoff Grace wrote:My hope is that the new format will improve for us too.

Thanks for your feedback Geoff, and welcome to the forum.

Thanks for the welcome, Forum Admin. I used to post here occasionally roughly a decade ago, but that information appears lost in the join date displayed beneath my post.

Forum Admin wrote:
...unlike the Adobe format—the new format fails to save the place from the last time the issue was opened, forcing a several step process to navigate to the table of contents, look up the article, click on its link, and then scroll down to the appropriate paragraph.

Or you can use the Bookmark (ribbon) button on the page you are reading when you depart that issue, and tap the TOC/Bookmarks (book) icon and tap the bookmark to return to where you left off?

Thanks for the tip. I'll try that next time.

Forum Admin wrote:
Additionally, each page takes seconds to display, despite having downloaded the entire issue.

SOS has far more pages than our competitor magazines, anyway, but the tablet versions use larger fonts and thus have more sub-pages as well, all of which makes for a larger load-in. It's also dependent on the speed of your tablet's processor to a degree.

I'm confident that processor speed is a factor with my older iPad; but as I never experienced this lag while using the Adobe app, it's also apparent that the current app is part of the problem.

Forum Admin wrote:
Finally, downloaded issues become purged automatically every few days for some unknown reason, forcing a fresh download.

Geoff, we've not encountered this problem ourselves on the iPads we test with and use every day. I've just checked and it's not been previously reported to us in the Support portal. The only time already-downloaded issues disappear is if you delete the SOS App; if you upgrade it to a newer app version, it retains the downloaded content. Tapping the Manage Issues link on the 'burger' menu icon (top-left) will tell you what issues are currently on your device.

If you are someone who fills up their iPad regularly, then perhaps the device is ditching older content when it requires space?

This seems plausible as I have a 16GB iPad. In fact, it's displaying a "Storage Almost Full" alert as I type this on my Mac. But again, this never happened with the Adobe version; and I've been dealing with storage issues for years on this device.

Forum Admin wrote:We're pushing the new platform developers all the time to add missing benefits, but you must appreciate unfortunately we are not their masters and they serve their overall community of publishers.

It must be difficult to have your hands tied regarding the quality of the app. I am as sympathetic for your frustration as you must be for the frustration of your readers.

Unfortunately, the bottom line is that the problems I'm experiencing with the new app have caused me to read Sound On Sound less often—despite years of loyalty and a genuine love for the magazine. For example, it's impossible to read the app when my download has vanished and I'm away from Internet access. Perhaps the bookmark solution will encourage me to read it more often when I only have a few free minutes, as I used to when I could open the app and start reading instantly.

Please keep in mind that any user complaints arise from a desire to read your magazine. This desire is being obstructed in a variety of ways that didn't exist before. I believe that most of us will be patient as you work things through, and I hope that you will indeed be able to convince your new partners to implement the solutions we desire.

Best,

Geoff
Geoff Grace
Posts: 2
Joined: Mon May 08, 2017 10:32 am
Location: Los Angeles, California, United States

Re: SOS App limitations and restrictions

Postby fenderchris2 » Tue Jun 06, 2017 2:43 pm

All these excuses have been spouted for years. It all seems very parochial and out-of-touch.

What SOS needs is a modern day app that at the very least incorporates pinch zooming and aspect switching (Landscape/Portrait modes). It really should also remember the last page viewed without having to set a bookmark every time. These are basic expectations. And please forget about that 'single page, no scrolling' business - it really doesn't work for people with small tablets and non-20/20 vision.

Android-using subscribers might be low because the app does not function very well on that platform. Make it work properly and the subscribers will come. I could actually be tempted to resubscribe myself if the above were to happen.
fenderchris2
Poster
Posts: 13
Joined: Sat Sep 17, 2011 12:00 am
Location: West Sussex England
 

Re: SOS App limitations and restrictions

Postby Guest271017 » Tue Jun 06, 2017 4:41 pm

No joy with Android here, it's a mess.
Guest271017
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1104
Joined: Wed Jul 20, 2016 12:42 am

 

Re: SOS App limitations and restrictions

Postby Agharta » Sun Mar 24, 2019 11:00 pm

I just came across separate Zinio versions of SOS for the UK and USA markets.
https://www.zinio.com/gb/sound-on-sound-uk-m34729
No mention of this alternative on here from what I can see and I imagine based on what I did read that it will be a substandard read compared to using the SOS app.
Although possibly with somewhere hardware that may not be the case.
Agharta
Frequent Poster (Level2)
Posts: 3519
Joined: Sat Oct 30, 2004 12:00 am


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users