If You Can Use MS Word... You Can Make An iPad App

If You Can Use MS Word... You Can Make An iPad App 

The Future of Journalism panel kicked into high gear by speeding past the information highway and going straight to mobile. As Americans are spending more time accessing the Internet on a mobile device and as journalists can now expect to anticipate the inevitability of sharing their stories across multi-platforms, there is a new media that has yet to be completely tapped into. According to the members of the panel there is a lot to do to make sure journalists take advantage of mobile platforms so we’re not left behind.

Paul Niwa of the Emerson College Journalism Program kicked off the panel explaining how accessible app creation can be. His presentation “Dispelling the Magic of iPad Apps” proved that creating an iPad app can be easier than building a web page. Niwa compared four app publishing programs based on capability and expense.

First up, ePub, one of the more simple to operate publishing programs. Niwa explained that one can easily change a Word document into an app. This way even magazines can publish their entire issues daily for download.

Sophie is an open source, collaborative multimedia publishing program. Users can drag and drop content onto the screen and the program publishes it to HTML5, readable by any tablet.

The Android App Inventor may be the most user friendly. Content that users load to their app fit together like puzzle pieces. If a Twitter puzzle piece and a GPS puzzle piece fit together, users can expect for their tweets to then be recorded with a location. There is no code involved and it is relatively inexpensive.

Push Pop Press was the last publishing platform covered. Recently purchased by Facebook, Push Pop Press has released only one book so far, Al Gore’s Our Choice. The book is not only transcribed into the app, but pictures, graphics, video and audio is now incorporated in the interactive product.

The Director of Interactive Media of The Detroit News, Mark Hinojosa followed explaining that acknowledging multi-media isn’t enough for print journalists. Hinojosa said that newspapers should add audio and video to their print stories online, but also be able to know how to edit and cut the bites and raw footage. That way spreading media across multi-platforms can be done without slowing down the pace of the newsroom by involving additional editors to cut the media.

According to Ron Recinto, Detroit Editor at Yahoo!, the ability for print format to be consumed via mobile depends on where the users are at the time they are accessing the media. If a user is driving down the highway, it’s unlikely that they will want to read a 500 word feature online. According to Recinto it depends on where users are and what they are doing that determines their toleration on quality for their mobile apps. If they’re on the go they may not mind poor quality broadband video, but if they are on an airplane flight they might expect better.

The panel concluded on the fact that mobile is definitely something journalists should be considering now and for the future. The closing question remained: how do you incorporate apps into a frequent use for users when they are hidden deep inside app stores while websites can be used for free with only access to a URL or search engine? It seems that only the ever changing ways of media will tell us for sure.


-Danielle Kreutter

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