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iPhone Apps for Printing he impact of mobile communications on printing changed forever on June 29, 2007, when Steve Jobs unleashed the first true smartphone on an unsuspecting world. At the time of the launch, naturally produced with Apple’s perceptive and precise marketing, much was made of the iPhone’s ability to utilize applications created by third-party developers. While many suspected that Apple’s App Store business model would do well, few predicted the runaway success that this concept turned business would enjoy. At the time of writing, there were 96,539 applications available in the Apple App Store ranging in price from free up to $899.99 for a high-end video surveillance application. This sort of excitement was once saved for the prepress environment through Quark and Adobe extensions, but now third-party development is becoming a beacon for even the most pedestrian technology consumer, which bears out in Apple’s App store numbers. With a worldwide developer community numbering the in the thousands hungrily eyeing Apple’s growing slice of the smartphone pie, naturally there is a great deal of competition to get in on the creation of the next big thing. Stories abound of humble college students developing an iPhone app for a school assignment suddenly making $300,000 in a weekend when their app becomes a viral hit. As for the functionality of these Apps, some 99-cent products have become indispensable in people’s lives while others are useless in spite of a relatively high price. I wrote about the potential threat of this iPhone technology to the graphic arts community in the July edition of PrintAction (Apple and the iFuture of Print), and for good reason – Apple’s seductive technologies have the potential to undermine the foundation of several segments of the traditional print market such as magazine, newspaper and book publishing. Many application developers, however, are also focusing on building tools for people actively involved in the graphic arts. Hiflex was the first major player to embrace the mobile communications aspect of the iPhone with the release of its Hiflex iPhone Portal. This app allows Hiflex MIS users
Developer: X-Rite/Pantone App Store rating
This application seeks to virtualize the venerable fan-deck of the Pantone Mixing Systems that anyone in the graphic arts will immediately recognize. Using the iPhone’s touch screen interface, a simple swipe takes you to the desired range of colours, then a tap brings up a particular page, and one more to a precise swatch complete with the requisite RGB, LAB and HTML values. The user 14 • PRINTACTION • NOVEMBER 2009
to check up on what is going on back at the plant, see details about customer interactions, access estimating capability, CRM functions and production feedback all via their 3G or wireless internet connection. Transferring this kind of functionality to a remote device frees up management and sales staff to spend more time in the field without packing around a laptop. This year’s PRINT 09 tradeshow in Chicago brought the announcement of other iPhone applications targeting the graphic arts community. At their press conference, X-Rite announced the myPANTONE iPhone application, giving any designer the ability to create and share Pantone Colour Palettes remotely – “whenever they find inspiration” as their press release emphasized. Also, EFI was demonstrating the latest version of its Pace Management Information System featuring a companion iPhone app enabling remote access. With the Pace iPhone application users can monitor their client’s work, track shipments and receive live status updates. Utilizing Apple’s in-app services, users can also text, email or call from within the program or even access a live Web-
can then drag the swatch down into the colour well running along the bottom of the screen. The application also comes loaded with a wide variety of Pantone Swatch libraries including the new GOE colour system and their Fashion + Home Designer collection. The myPANTONE app also integrates with the iPhone camera so that users can take a picture of the scene or object and sample the colours to build colour sets based on any hue in the image. Users can also access any image in their iPhoto collection for the same purpose. These colour palettes can then be shared in a number of ways. Users can email HTML images of the palette, email colour palettes that can be imported into Quark, Corel and Adobe applications, or
cam feed of their pressroom floor. As a print guy and an avid consumer of paper periodicals and books, I was reluctant to embrace the potentially disruptive iPhone. With Hiflex, EFI and X-Rite developing iPhone applications, however, I thought maybe it was time for another look. So, following that old adage of “keep your friends close and your enemies closer,” I decided that it was time to lay my hands on an iPhone and set out to discover if there is anyway this domineering technology would be able to help the print community rather than hinder it. As a relative newcomer to the iPhone mobile platform, and always one to seek maximum function for minimal expense, I began searching through the myriad of applications available in the App Store for other software titles geared towards those of us who still make a living producing the printed page. Of course, you won’t find the Hiflex or EFI Apps in the consumer-oriented Apple App Store – these proprietary applications are companions to elaborate and pricy MIS applications. However, I was able to find several Apps available to the general public, ranging in price from Free to $9.99, and ranging in function from indispensable to useless. Here are a few of the more notable Apps:
simply upload the palettes to the myPANTONE.com palette-sharing site. The downside is the lack of colour management in the iPhone OS meaning that your screen view is useless as a proofing tool in the pressroom. Likewise, sampling colours from a photo taken with an iPhone camera will produce very approximate results when referenced against the real scene. However, if used as a reference tool this application gives a user access to immediate cross-referencing between colour libraries and the ability to experiment with colour groupings on the go. And while $9.99 might seem a bit pricy in the $2.99 world of iPhone Apps, the depth of information provided is invaluable to anyone working with colour on a daily basis.
Color Expert, v1.0
Developer: Code Line App Store rating
Aimed at the same demographic as myPANTONE, Color Expert is an interactive colour wheel and swatch tool that provides both artistic and scientific analysis tools for colour selection. Version 1.0 offers an interactive colour wheel
with multiple colour schemes to choose complimentary, split complementary, triadic, monochromatic or analogous matches. The swatch libraries focus on the four principle Pantone groups as well as web safe and HTML colours. The next version of this application is due before year-end and promises several enhancements including full CMYK support, new input methods, camera support and palette export for Adobe workflows.
birth date, the choices presented were wildly inaccurate. As a designer, if you’re going to try to predict your customer’s colour preferences by divination, you might as well try to read the dried-up chicken bones in the bottom of a KFC bucket… don’t waste your time with this one.
($9.99) Developer: Richard Maddy App Store rating: Unrated
Yet another colour sampling and palette organizing application for the designer
Developer: X-Rite/Pantone App Store rating
on the go, Palettes seems much more artistic in its approach to colour oganization. Users can create, save and share colour pallets for virtually any use. Colours can be sampled from any source including photos or websites as well as being added using any one of several colour models. As one of the earliest colour palette applications available in the iTunes App Store, Palettes established a fairly large and loyal following in the design community well before Pantone officially entered the fray. Time will tell if they can hold onto that loyalty now that the big boys in the colour world are in the game.
WhatTheFont, v1.1 (FREE) Developer: Bitstream Inc. dba Myfonts.com App Store rating I downloaded this bit of fun while searching the App Store for “Pantone”. According to X-Rite: “You are part of that rainbow of light and just as being born on a particular day under a particular Sun sign offers insights into your personality and nature, there is also a personal colour that corresponds to the real you” – clearly they have some hippies working the marketing department. Colorstrology tries to tell you what colours are best suited to your astrological type by birth date. For my
I hate when I have an idea for a software tool and somebody else develops it first! I’ve always dreamed of creating an app that could identify fonts by sight. This clever application by Bitstream Inc. uses the iPhone camera to take a picture of a Continued on page 30
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font then connects with www.myfonts. com, Bitstream’s online font storefront to identify (and hopefully sell you…) the font. The process is pretty straightforward – first take a picture of the desired lettering from either a printed piece or signage (or use a webpage or any photo in your iPhoto library); second, select each letter of the photo, and identify it; third, upload your sample to the myfonts website and wait for the result. The app works best with letters that are not too cursive or connected and with high-contrast well-lit photos. Taking a photo of the typography on a Corona beer label in a dingy bar didn’t work too well, but a nice clean shot of a pizza menu (on the way home from the bar) did correctly identify “ITC Souvenir”. Currently the app doesn’t enjoy very high ratings in Apple’s App Store, but for a FREE tool this v1.1 app shows a lot of promise. If nothing else, it’s fun for you type geeks out there.
Developer: FontShop AG App Store rating
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FontShuffle is a very elegant and simplistic font selection tool for the designer on the go, offering more than 650 font samples are organized by visual similarities. The application contains the entire collection of FontShop, one of the web’s upscale font vendors and the library is updated constantly – which makes it a useful shirt pocket resource for budding typographers.
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Graphic Arts Measurement Converter v1.0 ($1.99) Developer: Artillery Lounge LLC App Store rating: Unrated
Every monitor in every prepress department I’ve ever visited has had a little cheat sheet taped to its side with common imperial fractions and their decimal equivalents – an absolute necessity for anyone building files to a specified layout in XPress or InDesign. Graphic Arts Measurement Converter translates measurements between all commonly used units: metric, imperial, points and picas with either a built in calculator interface, or a designer’s fractions table. This app is little pricy for something you can make yourself, print out and stick to your monitor with a piece of tape – however, there’s the cool factor of using your iPhone for something other than Tap Tap Revenge. Maybe v2.0 will include Ciceros, one can only hope!
Photoshop.com Mobile, v220.127.116.11 (FREE) Developer: Adobe Systems Inc. App Store rating
The companion iPhone application to Adobe’s Photoshop.com website allows users to access their stored images from any place and perform simple editing functions. While this modest app offers nowhere near the functionality of a full version of Photoshop, users can use the iPhone’s touch screen and gesture technology to crop, rotate and flip images as
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Unless you are a full time photographer or designer, your universe consists of much more than just fonts, colour palettes and Photoshop. Sometimes the most effective tools are those that streamline mundane everyday tasks such as PDF viewing, file sharing, scanning and faxing. Documents to Go was a mainstay when the Palm Pilot ruled the mobile computing roost and the release of their iPhone version earlier this year was met with great enthusiasm. Simply put, D2G enables users to store, read and alter Microsoft Office documents or display PDF files on their iPhone. Anyone in sales will appreciate the ability to carry MS Word correspondence and MS Excel estimates along with PDF proofs in their shirt pocket. Another application that makes simple yet effective use of the iPhone’s camera is ScannerPro. This app enables users to take photos of any paper document, adjust the contrast to make a clear black and white image, then send the document by email or MMS – in effect a mobile fax machine. A growing number of Mac users have MobileMe accounts for online storage and backup of files, amongst other things. With the MobileMe iDisk application, subscribers can access any file stored in their iDisk for viewing or forwarding.
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well as adjust exposure, saturation, tint and make black and white renderings. Additionally sketch and soft focus filters are included along with a tacky assortment of cheesy special effects… I’m sure the Colorstrology marketing team will love the Rainbow effect. However, there real benefit here is immediate access to online image libraries on a mobile device – a feature that might be quite useful to a project manager away from their desk. Anyone can created a free Photoshop.com account and enjoy immediate use of up to 2 GB of storage space for images. Of course, Adobe’s hoping you’ll want to buy more.
By the time you read this, the application count in Apple’s App Store will likely have topped the magical 100,000 mark. That is a pretty big number, but a sizable number of those software titles fall into the category of useless ‘iFart-style’ applications good only for a quick laugh at a frat house party. However, as the app market matures, some really intriguing software titles are beginning to emerge and empower Apple’s genre-defining mobile computing platform to move beyond the smartphone moniker. And while mobile applications for the graphic arts will likely remain a niche product for some time to come, with the continued growth of the App Store more are likely to come. Following the lead of Hiflex and EFI, major workflow vendors such as Kodak and Esko would be foolish to overlook the opportunity to connect their users to the hottest mobile computing device on the market today. Zac Bolan’s blog: blog.softcircus.com
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Published on Feb 24, 2010