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.
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. See below for Wired's own video about the project.
These are all created using Adobe 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 AIR toolset, the Wired prototype will be released this summer for the iPhone and iPad, said Clark.
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 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 favours 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.
Adobe’s software for publishing Adobe Content Server 4, lets book publishers copy-protect their ePub-based e-books with Adobe’s particular flavour of DRM. Apple will reportedly give book publishers the option to protect the e-books sold through its coming iBook store with the same Fairplay DRM it uses to protect movies sold through its iTunes store.
The Wired app is similar to another custom app Adobe built for The New York Times. Both will eventually be offered to other newspaper and magazine publishers, though Clark gave no timetable.
He said the digital magazine player will be brought to Mac OS X, Windows, Linux and other platforms. That would be broader, Clark said, than Adobe Digital Editions, the free e-book reader that runs only on Mac OS X and Windows.