The iPad may not be a magical savior of magazines, but the fact that it’s the best-selling gadget of all time makes it an undeniable game changer that can’t be ignored. Esquire, known for embracing new technologies, has been curiously quiet (GQ has had an iPad app for a better part of this year) but with last week’s release of their first iPad app I felt it a good opportunity to share some thoughts on the app as well as the magazine-to-iPad trend in general.

Publications like Esquire, GQ, Men’s Journal, Popular Mechanics, Wired, Men’s Health and Outside deliver killer spreads, long-form features, and meticulously thought out design. Unfortunately, this is something we’ve all taken for granted amidst the web content explosion. The reality is duplicating the richness and tangibility of print is difficult to accomplish on the web, and though there are champions fighting to make the internet a better place to experience, its irony still remains. Websites make us feel connected but deliver a disconnected experience.

Dare we say it’s the first magazine app that warrants its newsstand price…

Now, all this coming from the mouth pages of a humble publication like ours might sound like blasphemy, but it highlights the fact that the web is cluttered with too much “amateur hour” (pardon the Steve Jobs quote). Don’t read my words as if Gear Patrol is somehow exempt. Hell, I could list off complaints with our site for hours. Perhaps the iPad though will solve this conundrum for publishers like us in the long run or perhaps it won’t. Applications like the Esquire app are definitely major strides in the right direction, particular in a world where readers/users are getting smarter, savvier and less patient with thinly produced content that’s conveyed in shoddy experiences.

Now about the app…

Unlike so many “apps” others have touted that amount to little more than a glorified PDF reader, the Esquire iPad app ($5) faithfully recreates the organic feel of the printed magazine without being a direct page-to-pixel copy. Dare we say it’s the first magazine app that warrants its newsstand price.

Wow-factor is present and accounted for here. Key examples are Javier Bardem walking up to the interactive cover and introducing the app, interactive animations and videos organically integrated into the design (the World Trade Center interactive feature is worth noting). Seeing all of Esquire’s award-winning photography and content displayed on the iPad’s high pixel-density screen is just gravy – further argument for equipping the iPad with the iPhone 4’s retina display. Once you get over the slickness of the experience, it’s the smaller, non-showboat features that end up winning you over. These include a reasonable 90 MB download size, HTML5 formatting, fast unobtrusive navigation, and subtle user-interface elements that make you want to keep going back to explore over and over. You know, just like a magazine.

Esquire’s absence from the iPad to date has had us wondering but the result certainly lends credence to the argument that it’s sometimes better to do things right than do things first. That’s something often ignored in our tech-crazed society caught up in the status-updating, tweeting and checking-in mayhem. Granted, we’re guilty of all of the above, but that doesn’t stop us from showing appreciation when leaders in our industry take a step in the right direction.

If you own an iPad, this is a $5 well worth spending.

Buy Now: $5