updated 06:00 pm EST, Wed December 28, 2011
Two 'digital coffee-table books' in one
To celebrate 75 years since original publisher Henry Luce launched Life Magazine, the company has come up with a new app exclusively for iPad that celebrates the best images of the photography-centered magazine in a clever manner. When held vertically, the Life 75 app ($13) acts like a gallery of the original print magazine's covers -- in landscape mode, however, it becomes an interactive exhibition of the best and most iconic photos from the 1930s onwards.
Life Magazine actually began in 1883 under a different publisher as a general interest magazine before being bought and re-launched by Luce in 1936 as a entirely separate publication to showcase news photography and photojournalism. The print version of Luce's Life ran as a weekly until 1978, and as a monthly until 2000. Since then, it has mostly existed as an Internet site with occasional print "special issues" and enjoyed a run as a Sunday newspaper supplement from 2004-2007. The site continues to commission and publish photojournalistic stories and original images.
Because the magazine was such an immediate success, Life photographers had unprecedented access and managed to capture many iconic moments of the 20th century, including the classic picture of a sailor kissing a nurse in Times Square to celebrate the end of World War II. Pictures that brought readers exotic new sights, portraits of the most powerful leaders, candid moments and the horrors of war were a regular feature. The magazine has influenced many subsequent publications, particularly now that the iPad platform provides a natural place for the kind of image-centric storytelling Life excelled at.
In addition the cover gallery and "greatest hits" of photos, the app includes video clips of Life photographers recounting how they got the shot, audio clips of past and present editors with background details on the story behind the images, a gallery of rarely seen photos, multiple ways to access content (including a "decade bar" that sorts the photos by when they were taken), and a memory game that asks users to choose which photos actually "made the cut" and which didn't. Sections are also sorted by exotic locations, outstanding architecture, celebrity pictures, war photos, portraits of non-celebrity famous and infamous figures, and Life's all-time classic shots, the photos that have become part of the national consciousness.
Due to the amount of image content, the app is exceptionally large (506MB) and will take longer than normal to download as result.