The buzz around this afternoon’s MIPCOM ‘New Publishing Revolution’ sessions is undeniable, as attendees lined up to find out what’s happening in the apps world. It started with an iPad Apps Showcase, moderated by Any Screen Productions’ Ferhan Cook (centre).
« It’s not just the iPad either, » pointed out Cook. « There are 50 other tablets coming to market. It’s definitely going to revolutionise the content business… iPad is not just a bigger iPhone, it is a whole new publishing and entertainment medium. »
The format of the session involved Cook demonstrating iPad apps, while soliciting comments from a panel of experts.
The panel were (l-r):
– Patrice Slupowski from Orange
– Pasa Mustafa from Endemol Group
– Jen Topping from Channel 4
– Daniel Efergan from Aardman Digital
« The traditional publishing industry is starting to get involved, and learn and integrate, » said Efergan, while Topping said she’s most interested in « two-screen experiences » where audiences are watching TV with another device – smartphone, iPad or laptop – on their lap.
Mustafa warned that the really killer apps aren’t out yet, but expressed enthusiasm about ‘co-viewing’, and how iPad connects with other devices. And Slupowski talked about apps that use iPad « as a new screen without any relation to others ».
On with the apps (with links where we’ve been able to find them):
Pocket Pond is a virtual fishpond – effectively a screensaver – which lets users tap the screen to make ripples in the water, and feed fish by dragging dragonflies to them.
Talking Tom Cat is a virtual pet app starring a 3D cat, which repeats your words and scratches the screen if you annoy him. It includes in-app payments to buy additional actions for Tom.
E-BOOKS AND CREATIVITY APPS
Luna Story is a storybook app with cute graphics and relaxing sounds, designed for children but with interactive elements. Little Mermaid, meanwhile, is an interactive e-book telling the famous fairy tale by Hans-Christian Anderson.
Cook also highlighted Toy Story, Disney’s interactive app based on its hugely popular animated film. It lets the user record their own voice telling the story, so their children can have it narrated by a parent. It even has a karaoke mode for the songs, and mini-games.
« I’m a little bit disappointed that they are not really using the touch thing for the iPad, » said Slupowski, voicing a criticism.
Cake Doodle is a virtual cooking app which lets users mix on-screen ingredients together to make various cakes. « This sort of stuff is brilliant at the interactive level, » said Mustafa. « It’s a completely time-wasting app – how many times are you really going to use it? » noted Topping.
E-BOOKS – ADULT
The Elements is an app that presents the periodic table, with items for each element that can be spun around and zoomed in on, and bags of interactivity and extra information. « Everyone sees the distance between the table that we used to have in classrooms 30 years ago, and the table in The Elements, » said Slupowski, admiringly.
iDante – The Divine Comedy is an Italian app based on Dante’s poem of the same name, which adds music, a video introduction and 3D spinnable animations, using a game engine to let users interact with illustrations.
« We haven’t really seen people using e-books as part of a transmedia project yet, » said Mustafa, saying that this kind of app might work really well as part of a wider cross-platform project.
It’s a cooking app that offers photographic step-by-step guides to making individual dishes, with a visual-heavy interface designed for iPad. « It’s absolutely beautiful, » said Topping, while noting that it needs more features like shopping lists.
NEWS & APPS AGGREGATORS
« Personalisation is the most important thing right now, and apps need to get a hold of that. This is just regurgitating what’s on the web anyway, » said Mustafa.
Cook praised the Wired iPad app, albeit after being corrected by an audience member when she thought that the app does not let users access archive issues that they have paid for (it does).
Topping criticised the format though, saying that the app is so big « it took me six hours to download… I’m not sold on it as an alternative [to the print edition]. »
Flipboard elicited much more praise from the panel though. It’s a personalisable news app that pulls in content from websites, but also from Facebook and Twitter: users can add in any sections they like, from online and social sources.
« One of the key things you have to think about the iPad is the space it’s trying to enter, which is digital paper, » said Efergan. « One of the key things that makes it very important is this idea of publishing, and I do think this app beautifully blends those rules of publishing. »
2424actu is not out yet, but it’s an iPad app from Orange France that aggregates news from a range of sources, including video, TV and news websites.
What’s the business model? « Sharing the value, » said Slupowski, explaining that Orange will be running advertising within the service.
« This is really what it’s all about! » said Mustafa at the start of the casual games section of the showcase.
Wild West Pinball is a pinball game that Cook claimed to have played « all summer », and which makes good use of iPad’s touchscreen and tilt features.
Angry Birds was next up – a game that has sold 6.5 million copies on iPhone, and is doing well on iPad too. What’s more, its developer Rovio is looking to take the brand into TV and film now, as an animated property.
At this point, Efergan made the point that few iPhone games have changed markedly when making the leap to iPad, and asked if there’s an example of a game on iPad that couldn’t work on iPhone. Multiplayer board games like Scrabble were cited – users can play the game on their iPad while using their iPhone as the letter tile tray.
Fruit Ninja HD was the next title – it’s a casual game where players swipe their fingers across the screen to slash different fruit in half.
HOBBY / SPECIAL INTEREST
Star Walk is an astronomy application that shows the night sky according to your location, allowing you to identify stars, and tilt your screen to gaze around you – « augmented reality for stars » explained Slupowski.
He said that « it’s only 9am in the morning for the augmented reality industry » – i.e. very early days with time for more innovation.
TV / FILM APPS
Glee Karaoke is an app based on the TV show of the same name, which lets users sing along to songs from the show, and connect to harmonise with other fans around the world.
The app is free, but then users buy songs from each season for the show for $0.99 each, to sing along to the backing tracks. Don’t worry, it pitch-corrects vocals for people who aren’t so talented.
Fox, the producer of Glee, is particularly enthusiastic about the Glee app, according to Cook, because it virally promotes itself on Facebook and Twitter – users publish their performances, encouraging friends to download the app.
Miso is a ‘social TV’ app, which Mustafa showed off. Users can ‘check-in’ to specific shows when watching them, awarding them with points and badges so they can show off their fandom.
« These things will probably evolve into being part of the EPG, » said Mustafa, explaining that Miso is already looking to sign partnerships with broadcasters and producers. He also said that the fact that Miso has taken investment from Google hints that it could one day be a part of the Google TV connected TV service.
Will Facebook do this kind of media check-ins? Mustafa said he certainly sees the social network going in that direction, based on comments from Facebook’s Joanna Shields yesterday at MIPCOM.
« I know that some of the broadcasters are getting into this space, but that’s definitely not going to work, » said Mustafa. « It’s only based on their channels. »
Cook finished off by presenting a list on-screen of iPad apps recommended by Michael Tchao, Apple’s VP of product marketing. If you want to know what’s cutting edge in the iPad space, they’re well worth downloading. They were:
Heart Pro 3D
Edition 29 Architecture