Quark unveils new HTML5-based App Studio

Quark has announced an upgrade to its App Studio program for creating and publishing mobile apps, and it is relocating this creative tool to the cloud. The new version of App Studio will allow designers to create rich, interactive apps not only for iOS mobile devices, but also for Android devices and the Kindle Fire eReader.

What Quark is calling the next generation App Studio is based on the PressRun service from Mobile IQ, an enterprise cloud publisher Quark purchased in April. The new version of App Studio lets users create and collaborate on interactive apps in the cloud that are built with QuarkXPress or InDesign, HTML5, and/or XML. The PressRun technology lets users mix multiple file types within a single app.

"The new App Studio combines the best parts of PressRun and its cloud-based technology with the best features of QuarkXPress that enable people to design content to multiple channels and multiple devices and synchronize them in the cloud," said Gavin Drake, Quark's vice president of marketing.

App Studio publication preview in the browser.

The new App Studio's use of HTML5 facilitates features like searchable, selectable text, tagging, bookmarking, commenting, and multifaceted social media interaction.

Basing content creation on HTML5 also allows for touch-based interactivity like 360-degree image rotation, animations, email, vertical scrolling pages, audio, carousels, hotspots and popups, hyperlinks, slideshows, zoomable images, geolocation, page flips, HTML5 widgets, and more. These kinds of elements are created in an authoring program like QuarkXPress and InDesign without coding. When the issue is uploaded to the App Studio Portal, App Studio creates the HTML5 code.

Cloud orientation

Quark's original App Studio, introduced last fall for the iPad and based on technology licensed from Aquafadas, offered native functionality linked to iOS and made heavy use of images of rasterized text and overlaid interactivity, much like interactive PDF files. Users created apps in Quark's App Studio Factory and tested them on the iPad with the App Studio Issue Previewer. According to Quark, this technique generated large files with limited interactivity, and lacked the flexibility to accommodate new types of devices.

App Studio on the iPad.

PressRun, with its emphasis on HTML5, allows developers to take a more hybrid approach to content creation. It offers a variety of up-to-date smartphone and tablet features and gives publishers more flexibility to deploy their designs to different platforms. Those designs are more accessible, searchable, and usable, said Drake, and the resulting file sizes are also comparatively smallA focus on WebKit technology ensures apps are compatible with iOS, Android, and the Kindle Fire.

Content can be created for the new App Studio in InDesign CS5 or higher, as well as the upcoming QuarkXPress 9.5. A new HTML5 palette in App Studio provides a platform for interactive enrichment of content. An App Studio Publishing Palette lets users connect to App Studio Publishing Portal, the cloud-based service where users upload content, plan pages, collaborate with workgroups, and deploy issues for publication. Sections managed by different contributors can be uploaded independently and simultaneously. All pages can be seen directly in the browser. An Issue Previewer app, available from the app stores, lets participants view the contents of the portal on the targeted device. When the app is ready, it can be published to supported devices.

Pricing

The new App Studio prices are tiered to cater to various projects and workgroups ranging from small shops or individual designers to large, complex enterprise teams. For a single edition one-off app, the price is $100, with the source content derived exclusively from QuarkXPress. Multiple issues of a single publication are $100 per month, based on a year's subscription. This Pro plan offers unlimited issues for the iPad, iPhone, and Kindle Fire, and allows for 1000 issue downloads per month.

App Studio on the iPhone.

Add Android phones and tablets to the Pro mix and you get the Premium multi-issue subscription for $496 per month for 2500 issue downloads per month. Designs for the Premium subscription can originate in either Quark or InDesign. The Enterprise version offers custom app feature development and XML automation, volume discounts for multiple apps, and Quark Enterprise integration with an option for self hosting. Pricing is set on a case-by-case basis.

Quark has reassured current PressRun customers that the transition from PressRun to App Studio will be seamless as Quark retires PressRun as a brand. More information about this process is available at the PressRun website.

Meantime, current App Studio customers using the program's original AVE file format will have a choice to continue with the previous Aquafadas-powered App Studio technology—renamed Quark AVE—or migrate to the new HTML5, cloud-based platform.

The new version of App Studio will be available in the next 30-days. More information and the ability to sign up for notification of when the app is released, is available on Quark's website.

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