Slowly but surely, Next Issue is getting better.
The service slings unlimited digital magazines to your tablet (or Windows 8-powered PC) for a flat monthly rate, and its catalog is closing in on 100 titles (quite a jump from the 40 or so it offered when it first launched about a year ago).
Haven't tried it yet? Now's your chance to double the usual test-drive deal: StackSocial is offering a two-month Next Issue Premium subscription for free. Normally that would run you $30.
Let me get one big caveat out of the way right now: This offer is for new customers only.
Next Issue is available in app form for Android, iPad, and Windows 8. (Alas, it's still not available for Kindle Fire or Nook HD.) I've tried it on all three platforms, though most of my real-world usage happens on my iPad 3. Android users will be glad to know there's now parity with the iOS version, meaning you should be able to get the full catalog of available magazines. As for Windows 8, I must admit I didn't love Next Issue on a Surface tablet, owing to fuzzy-looking text, awkward navigation, and other issues.
But on an iPad, Next Issue is pretty solid, and truly wonderful for magazine junkies. The service recently added such high-profile titles as Backpacker, Consumer Reports, Food & Wine, Popular Science (nepotism alert: I'm an occasional contributor), Rolling Stone, and Travel + Leisure. That's on top of some of my existing favorites, which include Entertainment Weekly, Men's Fitness, and Time.
If you want to test-drive Next Issue without signing up for the trial, there's now an option to link to your Facebook account, which lets you sample various magazines for free. And the iOS version now lets you pinch and zoom in all magazines, not just certain titles.
Still missing, sadly, is Retina support. A company rep said this is intentional because "standard resolution...is the format used by the majority of our magazine titles." Uh, sure. Take one look at Zinio (which does support Retina) and it's hard to go back to Next Issue's comparatively fuzzy text. And the app still lacks any kind of bookmarking, sharing, or printing features (though you could always take a screenshot and print that).
So, yeah, Next Issue would do better to focus on improving its apps than just adding more titles. That said, for $10 or $15 per month, there's simply no better deal when it comes to magazine subscriptions. And now you can try it yourself for two months, no strings attached.