At the TED conference last week, Wired magazine showed off a new digital version of its publication that's targeted at tablets like Apple's iPad that relies on software built by Adobe Systems (see Adobe's video demo).
Rather than a static version of the print magazine or a fully recoded HTML Web page, the app combines the best of both worlds: the meticulousness of a carefully designed page along with Web-like interactive elements such as Flash videos and audio.
[ Stay up on tech news and reviews from your smartphone at infoworldmobile.com. | Get the best iPhone apps for pros with our business iPhone apps finder. | See which smartphone is right for you in our mobile "deathmatch" calculator. ]
These are all created using Adobe's Creative Suite 4 software, Jeremy Clark, senior experience design manager at Adobe, said this week. That saves time and effort for Wired, which, like many magazine publishers, uses Creative Suite -- especially its InDesign app -- to produce its magazine. Based on the Adobe Integrated Runtime (AIR), the Wired prototype will be released this summer for the iPhone and iPad, said Clark.
It also takes advantage of an upcoming software from Adobe called Packager for iPhone that will be a part of Adobe Flash Professional CS5 (Creative Suite 5). Adobe's Packager recompiles the Wired content into the native file format of the iPhone and iPad, said Clark. That enables the digital magazine to be submitted to Apple and sold via its App Store "just like any other app," Clark said.
That should satisfy Apple's desire to get a cut of anything sold for the iPad, even while it sidesteps Apple's crusade against Flash on the iPhone and iPad. The Safari Web browser used on those devices supports only two plug-ins: Apple's QuickTime media player and a Preview app that displays PDF and Office files. Safari mobile blocks all other plug-ins, including Flash, RealMedia, Acrobat Reader, and Windows Media Player.
The Packager is "a tricky but fascinating way to get around Apple's restrictions," said Tim Bajarin, an analyst with Creative Strategies.
Adobe hasn't settled yet on a file format for the digital edition of Wired, though it won't be the format it favors for e-books, .ePub, said Clark. "ePub is mainly a format to enable reflowable text on e-readers," Clark said. For the Wired reader, "one of our main focuses is to maintain the integrity of the [page] design. We don't want it [the text flow] to be too flexible."
He declined to comment on whether the format chosen is likely to be an open standard such as ePub, or on what kind of digital rights management (DRM), if any, will be used.