While I was at Le Web London last week, I grabbed a few minutes from my frantic liveblogging to chat with Valentin Squirelo of iPad app publishing platform Tactilize. The startup is in closed beta right now, but he ran me through their quick, easy workflow for publishing iPad apps from a web interface.
It's a great idea. There are too few good solutions for publishing content-based iPad apps which don't rely on legacy page-layout apps like Adobe InDesign. The system he showed off was fast, elegant and intuitive. You use the Tactilize web tool to build your native app. It's structured as a series of "pages", locked into sections, and drag and drop interactive elements from a palette of options including Dropbox, Gmail and so on.
Valentin described it as being "between InDesign and Tumblr" in ease of use, and I think he has a point. It's probably more on the Tumblr end.
At the moment it's a cut/paste to get text into the app, but as he pointed out, it's still early in its life. They have added a parser that will strip all the hidden junk Microsoft Word leaves in text out, though. Smart move. At the moment, updating the content in the app means resubmitting the app to the App Store as an update, but they're working on removing that need in a future version - as well as adding Newsstand support.
So, how does the output look? Based on the demo app he showed me, pretty impressive:
The prices they're pitching aren't cheap - $3999 for a one-off app, $1999/month + $1299$/app for a subscriptions. The team are talking at pitching it at individual bloggers and artists as well as at publishing houses - and I suspect they may struggle at that price, but it's cheap enough for the publishing houses to take a serious look at (although, they'll probably want CMS integration of some sort). I'd love to do an OM&HB app at some point - but at this price, it's too much of a financial punt for me at the moment. Valentin did suggest that the price was, in part, to enforce a quality level on the apps produced. I'm not taking that personally. :)
Tactilize is due to go into public beta in October.