Friday, September 17, 2010

Apps and 1st-releases

I have a theory that Apple either doesn't require approval of updates to existing Apps or that the process is much quicker than an initial approval of a new app. I say that because I have seen many 1st-release apps that are incredibly raw and/or feature light. Case in point is VitalSource Bookshelf which was just recently released. The reader for the iPad is actually quite pleasant and easy to work with but it is almost totally lacking in features. It allows zooming and has a table of contents, but I'm pretty sure that's it. After using several other Apps for reading, it is becoming apparent that it must be difficult to incorporate features like highlighting, annotating (incl writing in the margins), and searching. I am not sure of the reason but I speculate it relates to digital rights, multiple publisher formats, and probably some technical issues. So I'm guessing that VitalSource will follow up rather quickly with an improved app, but I can unequivocally state after working with 40 student experimenters for the past 4 weeks that 'ereaders' without features are simply not terribly useful as a studying device. I can say that downloading the ebook and having it resident on the iPad instead of having to be connected to wifi is wonderful (VitalSource offers this), but it would be great if we could get closer to an App that does most of these things (mentioned above) as a minimum. In the past 4 weeks the App developers have made a lot of progress...but there is still a little way to go.

1 comment:

  1. Hi, I just read about your class at the WSJ site 1/24/10)and have been poking around your blog as a result.

    I'm trying to pique interest in the iPad with faculty and administration at the campus where I work in the IT department, and am looking for some good examples - like yours! If it's OK, I might contact you via email with some questions.

    Regarding document annotation, have you looked into Aji Annotate as a possible e-reader? It's primarily PDF-based, but it allows annotating, highlighting, note-taking, underlining, strikeout and bookmarking. You can sync your documents via wi-fi with your laptop and subsequently edit them using Acrobat Pro. The edited documents can then be synced back to your iPad/iPod/iPhone.

    Their web page is

    Nice job on the class!

    Rick Povich