Sponsors
Sponsors

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor

Entries in Publishing (10)

Thomas Needs Rescuing on your iPad

Callaway Digital Arts bring us a new Thomas and Friends story with the Misty Island Rescue app. This lovely story brings the most recent in a very popular series (especially with the iPad Creative kids) to the iPad with the style and quality that we have already seen in other Callaway titles.

App Highlights

We liked the style of animation that features on every page. It feels in keeping with the book itself because it is the illustrations that you would see in the paper version that are animated, so it really feels like the book is coming alive. You can see what we mean in the video below.

Whilst each page does have an animated element to it (usually drifting mist if nothing else), not every page has interactivity. Callaway have added a yellow glow effect on elements you can interact with when the page opens.

Unfortunately this didn't stop our little testers stabbing at every bit of the page they thought should react to them and they found this a bit frustrating.

Clever Narration

The narration is very good and great quality, but if the kids get impatient (as they do) and start touching the interactive bits of the page, the narration cleverly pauses. It can then be resumed by clicking on the white circular arrow underneath the text.

It would help if this resume arrow was a bit more obvious because we missed it the first few times we used the app to be honest, maybe a different colour on the white background or using the yellow glow effect.

Fun and Games

There are some other features included in the app to keep little ones busy including Jigsaw puzzles, join the dots, games and colouring pages, all of which the kids loved. There is also a video featuring the Misty Island theme song.

We think that Thomas and Friends Misty Island Rescue is a well illustrated, carefully animated and visually appealing iPad book that will provide Thomas fans with plenty of value. If you have little Thomas fans using your iPad we recommend you check out the video and App Store link below.

Thomas and Friends Misty Island Rescue is available on the App Store for $4.99 (£2.99).

The History of Jazz Sets The Bar

The History of Jazz app is a sumptuous, beautiful and thoroughly engrossing experience that has fired up our innate interest in this rich and sometimes enigmatic musical art form. We tell you why we liked it and what makes it one of the best iPad interactive books we have seen so far.

The History of Jazz developed by 955 Dreams (a three person team made up of two coders and a UI designer) really ups the ante on the iPad 'coffee book' front, but it is so much more than that.

History of Jazz does feel like a quality, heavyweight coffee book in that it has gorgeous visuals and an extraordinary amount of depth to it's content. When you are turning the pages of a book though it is easy to lose the thread and this app has a clever navigation aid to help you here.

UI Design

Along the bottom of the screen is a piano-keys inspired 'dancing' timeline which enables you to jump around between different Genres and time periods within Jazz's History.

Particular care has been taken with this UI to create a lively and colourful interface that just begs you to interact with it impelling you to explore, and this we did. We found it easy to lose several hours digging deeper in to the multi-layered interface, watching videos we had never seen before about people we had only vague knowledge of and we loved it. 

There are some great videos in this app, some real rarities, but this brings us on to an interesting point. All of the videos and most of the text used in this app are sourced from YouTube and Wikipedia respectively. So you could ask "Why am I being charged $9.99 for information I could find myself?".

Well, yes you could probably find a lot of this content yourself but really, would you want to? And how long is that going to take you? We would much rather view this content in a wonderfully curated interactive 'book', with the context of Genre and History integrated carefully and set out for us all in one place.

Unlike a printed book though, revisions and updates will not cost you the total purchase price again, the Developers are keen to add new content in the future. This is one of the key advantages of digital content publishing.

iTunes Integration

Each musician's profile has a link to more videos, 'Essential Songs' and 'Essential Albums'. Clicking one of these two links pops up a window inside the app with iTunes audio previews for each of the available tracks. From here you can click on the Purchase link and you are taken into the iTunes store, which is useful.


One Thing Missing

But what we really wanted from this app (and it is something that we are teased about in the app instructions) is the one thing that is missing. We would dearly love to be able to play artist tracks in the background whilst exploring and browsing the app.

There are obvious Copyright issues with this request and it is possibly why this feature is missing, but it would be just perfect to have this functionality and it would enhance the experience so much more.

We would also love to have this background music feature available whilst playing the Slideshow that is built in to the app, which is a very nice feature for when your iPad is idle. We hope the Developers can sort something out so that this feature can be added.

The Price of Development

The History of Jazz is admittedly one of the more pricey iPad apps but how much would that still image, not-at-all-interactive and importantly (given the subject) silent paper book cost you? Probably upwards of three times as much for a hardcover full colour edition.

This app really plays to the iPad's interactive strengths by using audio, video and the touch interface to involve you and aid your exploration so that there is more to discover each time you visit the app.

The level of research coupled with the development of the look and feel of the app is also a major factor in the added value that the book brings. Robert Scoble did an interview with the development team and there are some interesting insights in his half hour-ish video, if you would like to know more about the creative and technical processes behind this app you should definitely watch it.

Although it may be near the top tier for this kind of niche, interactive book app, we think it is a fair price, especially when compared to the cost of a printed book of this stature. 

Final Thoughts

As we said at the outset, this app has really captured our interest and we find ourselves dipping back into the History of Jazz while we are sat with iPad in hand, looking to relax and chill out of an evening. It is the best feeling, interactive book app we have yet seen on our iPads and for its educational value and immersive experience we can highly recommend it, even if you have just a passing interest in the Jazz medium.

History of Jazz is available now, currently at version 1.0.4, for $9.99 (£5.99) in the app store. A demo of most of the screens and features can be seen in the video below.

As always, if you have any comments about the History of Jazz, let us know in the comments.

 

Would You Use This New Service On Your iPad?

UK newspaper the Independent published an article today discussing a new service launching in December called Short List Press. The service plans to build on that great publishing tradition, the Short Story, by offering 99p short stories by various authors around the Globe, in the English language.

These will range from 2,500 to 15,000 words in length and will be designed for reading on portable devices like the iPad and iPhone, as well as the Kindle and other eBook readers.

Short List Press are also asking for original, previously unpublished, submissions from authors that are "great literary/upmarket fiction which is plot-driven, has an original voice and is fresh and vibrant".

We think it is an interesting move and one that intrigues us as we watch closely the impact devices like the iPad have on the Publishing industry. We would encourage you to check out the article, especially if you enjoy reading more than the odd webpage on your device.

Are you reading full length books on your iPad? Would you be more inclined to buy short stories and read these on your iPad? What do you think of Short List Press's plans? Let us know in the comments below.

T3 now on your iPad

One of the best things for gadget obsessed geeks like us when we are going on holiday and waiting for a flight, train, etc. is spending a good deal of time browsing the newsagent's shelves for gadget mags.

Our all time favourite here in the UK is T3. It is a veritable treasure trove of futuristic, unobtainable, expensive and sometimes downright stupid gadgets written about in a humorous and often irreverent manner that makes us happily part with the dosh for the dead-tree version.

Now, we can combine our love of all things shiny and technological with our greatest gadget, the iPad. See the post on T3's site for more details, you can also see a very brief preview in the video below:

T3 is available now in the app store as a free download with a sample version of the new interactive magazine. Each issue will be released at the same time as the monthly paper version at the same price, £3.99. We think it's a good price for such interactive and engaging content.

More 3D Fun Headed To Your iPad

The problem with pop-up books, especially if children are involved, is that they can easily get damaged or even parts ripped out, so they do not last long. Well, help is on its way for today's e-Parents with a new app that is about to be submitted to Apple.

Ideal Binary have developed Grimm's Rumpelstiltskin an electronic book app for the iPad (there is also an iPhone version separately). Described as "the world’s first fully 3D interactive pop-up book" the app looks impressive from the video preview.

Book publishing on the iPad, especially Children's books, is a very exciting and fast developing sphere of activity and we can't wait to get our hands on this app to try it out. Hopefully we can in a couple of weeks.

CourseNotes 2.0 - Share Notes via Facebook (and more)

coursenotes-icon.png

The first version of the CourseNotes app launched at the same time as the iPad earlier this year, but the app's Developers, Dear Panda LLC, have just released a number of significant new features with their 2.0 version.

In addition to the previous functionality that included:

  • Creating and organising notes/sketches in various ways
  • Creating To-do or assignment reminders
  • Integrated research tools to add to notes
  • E-mail and network sharing
  • A very attractive UI

the new features are:

  • Online export of notes, for viewing, sharing or printing notes online
  • In-app viewing of friends' shared notes
  • Support for bullet list formatting in notes
  • Premium note content available for in-app purchase

coursenotes2.png

Top Two

The two big features that stood out to us are 1) online sharing of notes and 2) the new premium content.

Online sharing takes the previous functionality a bit further and sits well with students who would no doubt already be avid users of Facebook. The app uses Facebook account verification to sync your notes online and make them available via a custom link that can be automatically shared via Facebook. There are three online sharing options:

  • Just Me - no sharing
  • My Friends - allowing existing Friends on Facebook to share your notes
  • Everybody - allowing any user of CourseNotes to see your notes

Additionally, you can login and see what notes your friends are sharing for all subjects they have made public. So if you were ill and missed that very important pre-test class, you can add your friend's notes to your iPad from their Facebook link, right inside the app.

This is in addition to the ad-hoc network and email sharing that was available before, so students really have a nice range of collaborative options with this new version. Facebook comments and feedback are starting to pick up with this release, so that should help spur on further development of these features.

coursenotes6.png

Premium content comes to CourseNotes via in-app purchase and initially takes the form of just two study guides, 'French verb conjugations' and 'the Periodic Table of the Elements', with the Press Release stating: "Additional study-sheets on topics including Art History and U.S. History will follow shortly after the launch."

'Shows Potential'

We are not sure who is developing these guides, but at up to $2.99 per purchase we are hoping that the quality and authority of the study guides is being verified. In a way, they can only be very generalist without official textbook Publishers being involved, unlike Inkling's official textbook replacement offering we covered last week.

That being said, with the addition of a raft of useful and popular learning resources CourseNotes could become the full-blown study companion and central repository that students need on their iPads.

If Dear Panda can build up a decent range of study aids very quickly then they could establish themselves as the go-to resource for iPad wielding students who want to share and learn together using a device that is always with them and instantly available.

Without the hassle of waiting for the OS to start up or booking a slot to use the Library PCs, students can already share, collaborate and research topics wherever they happen to be with the iPad using an app like CourseNotes.

CourseNotes 2.0 is out now in the app store at $4.99 (£2.99), a brief overview can be seen in the video below.

If you have tried CourseNotes out on your iPad and have any thoughts about it at all we would love to hear from you in the comments.

Inkling: It's like iTunes for your Textbooks

(edit: Video removed - YouTube version was not authorised, text amended to refer to Inkling website to watch the video)

Inkling_Two_Up_highres.jpgImagine the scene:  You are about to leave home for the first time and enter the  world of Higher Education, you're off to College or University.  You are excited and nervous. Everything is packed, and you are ready to walk out of the door and into your new 'adult' life, but just as you are about to leave your Parents hand you an A4 sized box.

"Yes", they say, "it is an iPad!". They also tell you that all of your textbooks are in that little box too, and there's more, they tell you that you have credit enough on your iPad for hundreds of individual chapters from any textbook you need. "Don't spend it all at once!" they say, and they mean exactly that, you don't have to spend all of your credit at once on one very expensive textbook. Instead you can buy just the chapters you need that term (semester) and just the ones you will need for the rest of the year.

With the release of Inkling for the iPad, this is now a reality, and we think it has very important implications for the publishing business as a whole.

What is Inkling?

Inkling is the name of a new app, and also the company who have developed, with the publishers/authors, new electronic versions of certain key textbooks. The four launch titles, all from McGraw-Hill, are:

This is certainly only the beginning.  As faculty and institutions begin to see the impact of using electronic versions of these textbooks and the learner engagement that comes from using the iPad, and arguably other tablet-type devices, we are certain that this type of application, if not just Inkling themselves, will radically change the way that key texts are delivered and distributed to students at all levels of the Education stream.

It is a development that has got the team here at iPad Creative very excited about the future of publishing and Education.

What makes Inkling books special?

These textbooks are not just PDFs or electronic versions of the paper version. No, these are enhanced textbooks feature interactive illustrations, video, text highlighting, electronic versions of margin notes, and one of the most interesting and creative features in our opinion, collaborative note sharing with other registered Inkling users that you know, e.g. those studying the same course, as well as faculty members.

That's right, you can make (electronic) notes in the textbook and share these with other Inkling users by connecting with them via their username, but more impressive is the ability to subscribe to a Tutor's note stream, enhancing the learning interchange and providing Educators with another route for learner engagement, something that they are on constant quest to maintain and improve.

(This video is hosted at CNN and it looks like the embedded Flash video will not work on your iOS device, but you might be able to watch it on your device here. We mention the pertinent points for our discussion below anyway.)

In the video above, Matt MacInnis, says that Inkling went back to the authors and publishers to make these electronic textbooks so much more than the paper version, adding in interactive features such as quizzes which not only give you feedback on correct or incorrect answers, but if you are incorrect, it tells you why, and what the correct answer is to help you learn where you went wrong.


 

Not so different in the Classroom

Inkling_Reading_C_highres.jpgYou might imagine with all this new fangled stuff that it would be a bit weird sat next to fellow students with their traditional paper version when your Professor calls out, "could everyone turn to page 128". Because of the different nature of the electronic textbooks in Inkling, they do not really have pages as you would in a paper book, but Inkling have made efforts to help users out in this area by making it easy to jump to any page. The built-in search gives you the advantage though, enabling you to quickly access any text or illustration in the book, as well as in your own notes that include those key terms.

The iTunes Music Store Pricing Model

One of the key features that stood out about Apple's iTunes Music Store when it was introduced, and one of the aspects that shook up the Music Industry, was the ability for customers to buy individual songs from an album. Before, we had to buy the whole album on CD and, although there were other online music stores around, this purchasing model and improved customer choice really hit the mainstream with iTunes. In other words, we could pick and choose what we wanted, or needed, to create an à la carte product tailored to us as the customer.

Now a very similar model can be applied to the academic publishing industry. Previously, the only option for students was to buy the whole tome and swallow the hefty price tag but now, with the introduction of individual chapter purchasing, Inkling are opening up a new, à la carte, way to buy.

The price of buying the paper version of the textbooks quoted in the above video is $180, but by selecting just the chapters that are needed the student could only end up spending about $50. Savings that both the student and Parents will appreciate, arguably providing less of a barrier to accessing learning resources for those who find it difficult to afford, especially if the iPad does not have to be purchased by them, but is issued to the student by the Academic establishment as part of their enrolment (from reading the FAQs it looks like your purchases follow you to a new device if you get an iPad after finishing your studies, so your purchases are not lost).

Some of us who are not so close to College age any more might bemoan the loss of the traditional paper based books and the feel of physically flipping through the pages and scribbling notes in the margins. It has to be acknowledged though that the form factor of the iPad lends itself perfectly to reading textbook pages, being about the same size, and for a generation that are not as used to holding and using paper books, it is probably not much of an issue and is certainly what the future will look like.

Guided_Tour_in_the_Park_CMYK_highres.jpg

More info

There is a good FAQ at the Inkling site which answers a lot of questions about the detail of using the app and there are some nice little video demos of the key features too.

As we have already said, the launch of Inkling and no doubt other similar products eventually, fills us with a good deal of excitement about the future of publishing and the user benefits it will bring, even if it is a shift in thinking for the Publishing houses. With a big name like McGraw-Hill behind Inkling's launch though, it looks like an inevitable march towards a different purchasing model, at least in the Academic sphere where not all of a book is required or needed.

Your thoughts?

What do you think? Are you involved in Education in some way? Do you have any thoughts on how this might be a good move? Or do you have some serious reservations about this development?  Let us know in the comments below, we would love to hear from you.

Walt Mossberg iPad Review Video and more detail

For those that haven't seen it yet, here is Walt Mossberg's review summary video from the All Things Digital site, take a moment to watch it through, we have made a few observations below. 

Over the last few weeks we have been discussing here at iPad Creative the potential of the iPad as a Publishing device and Walt makes a comment in his review about working with the Pages app and its integration with the ubiquitous Microsoft Word:

This is a serious content creation app that should help the iPad compete with laptops and can import Microsoft Office files. However, only the word processor exports to Microsoft’s formats, and not always accurately. In one case, the exported Word file had misaligned text. When I then tried exporting the document as a PDF file, it was unreadable.

Not all positive, but this is probably more about software compatability and can no doubt be enhanced by Apple in future updates, this is after all Version 1.0 of the iPad apps and we should probably expect things to take a while to settle down.  But he does say that Pages is a 'serious content creation app', which we felt was the case after seeing Apple's walkthrough video.

Another area we are interested in is the iPad's handling of photos, and Walt encourages us a little by saying:

The photo app is striking, and much more like the one on the Mac than the one on the iPhone.

Still no word on editing our photos though, it looks like we will have to wait a few days for people to play with some of the iPhone apps on the iPad to see how it copes with this.

He then goes on to give a little bit of counter-balance by pointing out some of the things that we all know already, but that are missing from the iPad:

I did run into some other annoying limitations. For instance, the email program lacks the ability to create local folders or rules for auto-sorting messages, and it doesn’t allow group addressing. The browser lacks tabs. And the Wi-Fi-only version lacks GPS. Also, videophiles may dislike the fact that the iPad’s screen lacks wide-screen dimensions, so you either get black bars above or below wide-screen videos, or, if you choose an option to fill the screen, some of the picture may get cut off. 

As we mentioned in our previous post, the review is on the whole positive and places the iPad in its own niche, not as a specific replacement for any other device.  Check out the full review here.

Waddle over and take a look at what Penguin Books plan for the iPad

Penguin Books the British book publishing subsidiary is celebrating its 75th anniversary during 2010. Penguin seem eager to push their publications onto the iPad. If this video demonstration is any indication it will probably pick up a brand new revenue stream soon enough. Check out the video below, it's worth watching in its entirety.

Wired magazine in iPad format

It's no surprise that the magazine industry is looking for ways to get their best content into a format that can take advantage of all that the iPad has to offer. In this demonstration Wired show what might be possible in a post iPad world.