It’s good to see that publishers are taking advantage of new technology, particularly the iPad. I’ve just downloaded the new apps for EngineerIT and Electronics Industry Update (EIU). The EngineerIT app is part of a suite of apps from EE Publishers, who also offer apps for Energize, Vector and PositionIT.

EngineerIT AppThe two apps take a slightly different approach, with EIU loading into Apple’s Newsstand, whilst EngineerIT is a stand-alone app. Personally I prefer the newsstand approach: it makes much more sense to collect all the publications in one place rather than to have them scattered across several screens (let’s face it, most of us don’t have organised screens on our iPad).

Both publications reproduce the print version directly. This doesn’t make a great experience as they were originally designed for a larger print form factor, but both are readable. In fact I found I was rarely needing to zoom in to EIU, although EngineerIT was slightly less easy on the eyes. When the much-rumoured small form-factor iPad launches, however, I will probably have a very different view about the layout.

Both titles add some hyperlinks, although neither are perfect. In EIU I saw URLs where only part of the URL was picked out for the link and in EngineerIT some URLs were not hyperlinked at all. Presumably this is down to the imperfect systems to automatically detect URLs, and hopefully this will improve over time.

EIU added some video to the publication. Whilst the layout of the video is a little clunky, it did work well, and I’m sure that we’ll see more videos in the future.

So, will I read any of these publications on the iPad? Well, I’d love to see publications laid out specifically for the tablet form-factor, but I understand that the costs are probably prohibitive at this stage. Despite this caveat, the apps are definitely usable, and I expect I’ll be dipping into these publications on my iPad in the future. I’m convinced that the Newsstand approach is best, and I hope that EngineerIT will move to appearing in Newsstand in a future version – I’m guessing that they had started development before Apple announced Newsstand.

Apps are definitely delivering an acceptable reading experience on the iPad, and I’d love to see more publishers invest in the format. As more offer this option, I’m sure that the competition will mean publishers need to improve the readability of layouts and the quality of content, and this has to be good for everyone in the industry.