Buyer's Guide 2015: Digital Magazine & App Technology
This is a section from the Publishing Executive Tech Buyer's Guide which is a publisher's reference on emerging technology in the media industry. You can find other Buyer's Guide sections here:
Publishers have been publishing web content and digital magazines of some sort for over a decade now. What's new, and often challenging for publishers to integrate into their production cycles, is creating web- and mobile- optimized content for a growing variety of platforms.
Bringing together the right talent and technology to create high quality digital reading experience certainly has its payoffs. Robust digital content enables publishers to meet readers as they migrate to mobile devices, as well as track how readers are engaging with their products with greater sophistication.
This is typically done in two different ways. One is to create an application or "app" for Apple's iOS, Google's Android, or other mobile operating systems. The other is to create a mobile-friendly website, using HTML5 and CSS 3, for use on any browser-including those on iOS and Android devices.
There are several options for creating a native tablet app edition. The easiest option is to send existing print PDFs to a cloud-based service provider, who typically converts these into non-Flash-based replica editions, activating hyperlinks, and sometimes adding other interactive enhancements.
Another approach is to use existing page layout or website production to build interactive or enhanced digital editions. These often use familiar software (InDesign or QuarkXPress) and a cloud-based service to generate enhanced content.
The most advanced but often expensive approach is to design and produce app or website content specifically for tablet or smartphone use. This approach can use content from the print edition, but is a completely new digital product, providing greater access to a device's camera and other built-in features.
Many providers' replica and enhanced editions also offer an HTML5 reader option, allowing publishers to move from native app to browser-based content, which can be especially helpful on smartphones or smaller-screen tablets. Some companies do all the conversion and adding of interactive elements, while others provide online or desktop plugin tools for publishers to create their own product. Almost all offer cloud-based distribution to digital newsstands or, in the case of HTML5 browser content, integration with existing web hosting.