iPad as Content Creation Platform

It’s become something of a cliché that the iPad is for content consumption, leaving the business of content production to the “old-fashioned” general purpose PC. It turns out, if you leave matters to developers, they will come up with a lot of innovative ways for people to create content even with a fairly limited — in terms of processing power and memory — device like the iPad. Business Insider has a great write-up of a whole bunch of apps and uses that is worth checking out: go read it for yourself. I especially like the video for Studio Track — the video is not brilliant, but the app is.

iPad App Creation Made Easy

A number of vendors and environments are arising to support the easy creation of applications for the iOS platform. Two in particular stand out in my mind and are worth checking out:

If content creators really want not only to have a say in how their content gets distributed but also help to innovate the forms and kinds of content, we need at least to be aware of the possibilities if not get our hands, and minds and content, in the game.

OmniFocus for iPad is OUT…

OmniFocus for iPad is OUT … and I just can’t get excited. Why? Hmmm, let’s see … I’ve already spent $50 on the Mac version and $20 on the iPhone version and now I am supposed to pay another $40 for the iPad version?

To be clear, this is not entirely OmniGroup’s fault — though I haven’t really heard them protest this situation either. It’s really a function of Apple’s App Store and its inability to differentiate users. (Oh, to be fireballed and have John Gruber, who has become Apple’s pony boy in the era of the iPhone, defend Apple on this.)

First, note that I only paid $50 for OmniFocus and not the full retail price of $80. I was able to do that because the OmniGroup is kind enough to offer educational discounts. Can the App Store do that? No.

Second, one of the reasons I purchased OmniFocus over other GTD apps — some of which I think are actually easier to use — is because I was invested in the OmniGroup portfolio. I have been using OmnoOutliner and OmniGraffle from their 2.0 days, before they went “pro,” and I have enjoyed the OmniGroup’s commitment to their applications and their users. I have also enjoyed their upgrade pricing, which essentially offers users of previous versions of a product the change to buy the new one at a discount.

While one can upgrade an app in the app store, there is no way, as far as I can tell, for developers to distinguish between new users and recurring users and thus to reward the extant users for their loyalty to the product — which may not only have been simply using the app but also discussing it on their blogs or in various forums or in providing bug reports or feedback.

There is also no way for developers to distinguish between classes of users, commercial versus educational for example, on the App Store, even though Apple recognizes the difference in their own Store.

And must there, must there be a separate iPad version of OmniFocus? Without a question, from the screenshots I have seen, it is a thing of beauty — perhaps nicer than the iPhone and Mac version combined — but why can’t it be a universal iOS app? To be honest, this isn’t question of money so much as a principled orientation towards simplicity when it comes to the inventory of debris one trails behind oneself as we pass through this mortal coil. I don’t really need there to be two OmniFocus apps sitting in my iTunes library.

I don’t know if the lack of an universal version was a decision based on differences in screen size or if it was an economic decision — and here I will note that the steady increase in pricing of applications at OmniGroup is beginning to make me nervous, if not a little agitated. Times are tough. I’m glad OmniGroup seeks to pay its developers well, but I just may not be able to hang with them for much longer. My paycheck has been flat for the past five years. (And by flat, I mean flat.)

Books in the Age of the iPad

Too much ink and too many pixels has been spilled of late about the state of reading or the state of publishing or the plight of books in the IT era. Craig Mod has a simple take on the matter: good riddance to all the ink and paper spent on books that simply don’t require it. By that he means mass market books, paperbacks we buy, read, and sometimes simply recycle or give away or shelve and never think about again.[^1]

Mod would probably include more books in that category, since he argues that any book that is almost all text and really doesn’t require any kind of design is probably best read on devices like the iPad or Kindle, where the text can be manipulated by the reader to their own preferences.

Reserved for valuable ink and paper in Mod’s world of future publishing are books that are designed with, well, design in mind. Books with lots of illustrations or books that have their layout as part of how you read them — I am particularly reminded of Joshua Mowll’s books.

That is, what the tablet opens up is the chance to read print books as print books and to read text books as texts. It’s an interesting idea.

[^1]: Please note that I am still a little worried about the ability to give away books in the digital era. Even as an author, I would rather see my work passed around and read than see its use limited only to one person.

Keynote for iPad Guidelines

Apple has released guidelines for creating Keynote presentations on a Mac that will be used on an iPad. The highlights include:

  • the resolution to use (1024 x 768)
  • themes to use (e.g., only the more bland Apple-provided ones)
  • fonts to use (anything else reverts to Helvetica)
  • a limited set of master slides
  • pre-scaled images, with PNG being the preferred format

I don’t own Keynote for iPad, so I can’t make any comments on this or the other restrictions involved. I do own Pages for iPad, and I largely don’t see it utility until Apple comes up with a better way to handle file transfer from the iPad to the Mac. Like the iPhone, users do not have direct access to directories, where files are saved on the iPad is obscured from the user while using the iPad as well as when you are syncing with iTunes. Worse, Apple offers no real way to sync things via their own syncing apparatus on MobileMe. (Others have written about this insanity stupidity. If anyone is interested, let me know and I can add the links to the story here.)