Nov 29, 2013
Nov 25, 2013
Posted by Nick Herrmann
We are extremely proud to announce that two of our apps won awards last week at The Bookseller’s prestigious FutureBook Innovation Awards.
Disney Animated won the coveted award for Best Adult Digital Book, and Beethoven’s 9th Symphony received the award for Best Reference Digital Book. The FutureBook Innovation Awards celebrate the best in digital publishing, and it is a huge honour to have our apps recognised.
The shortlist brought together an amazing selection of digital innovation, but ultimately the judges were impressed by the technology behind Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, and Disney Animated utilising the iPad’s full capabilities. Judge Shane Richmond described the former as “an exceptional guide to one of the greatest symphonies”.
Louise Rice, producer of Disney Animated, talks about the process:
“I’ve been a publisher a lot longer than I’ve been a producer, but the roles are much the same (with a bit of filming and technology thrown in). It’s still about nurturing a project from beginning to end, about delivering a story, and for Touch Press it’s about doing it in a way that best utilises the iPad’s capabilities. Most of all, it’s about helping a brilliant team make it happen, on budget and on schedule…
This involves lots of conversations, which in Disney’s case were sometimes over a less-than-perfect telephone conference line with two different time zones to battle with. I am personally forever indebted to Mark Walker, SVP at Disney Interactive Entertainment, for getting on the phone to Max Whitby after he’d explored The Waste Land for iPad on a long plane trip, for nurturing the project throughout, and for the delicious Harrods hamper that the Touch Press team enjoyed in my kitchen (due to inclement weather, the park picnic had to be abandoned).”
Nov 21, 2013
Posted by Nick Herrmann
To celebrate the release of The Elements in Action, here are ten surprising facts about the elements in the periodic table, inspired by our apps The Elements and The Elements in Action.
1. Virtually everything you eat is radioactive, bananas slightly more so. This is because bananas are particularly rich in potassium, and about one hundredth of one percent of the potassium atoms in the world are radioactive.
2. The half-life of astatine is only about 8.3 hours, which means that whenever it naturally occurs, it doesn’t stick around very long. A rough estimate indicates that at any given time there’s only about an ounce of it present in the entire Earth.
3. Hydrogen is the lightest of all the gases; but by weight, 75% of the visible universe is made of hydrogen.
4. Cannonballs are able to effortlessly float in a pool of mercury due to its high density.
5. Highly radioactive radium paint hand-painted on watch dials led to the establishment of modern labour laws.
6. Gold leaf is only about 500 atoms thick, and so fragile it can be picked up only with static electricity on the end of a red squirrel hair brush.
7. Approximately 20% of the oxygen in the atmosphere is produced by the Amazon rainforest.
8. Chlorine is one of the most effective and cheapest disinfectants, saving millions of lives worldwide. However, it is also extremely deadly when inhaled in its pure form: it was used in World War I as a poison gas during the gruelling trench-warfare phase.
9. Sulfur is one of the three basic ingredients of gunpowder (the others being charcoal and potassium nitrate), and thus has the blood of millions on its hands.
10. In the early 1900s, radioactive water was all the rage: bizarrely, it was popular to drink for “health benefits”…
Nov 8, 2013
Posted by Nick Herrmann
In memory of those who have given their lives in the line of duty, Egmont and Touch Press are making War Horse for iPad available for free during Sunday 10th and Monday 11th November to mark Remembrance Sunday, Remembrance Day and Veterans Day.
Oct 17, 2013
Posted by Alex Lebus
While the launch of iOS7 had everyone at Touch Press thinking excitedly about what lies ahead for the app space, it got some of us thinking nostalgically back to the early days of the App Store.
Here a selection of some of the first apps (some from Touch Press, some not) that various members of our team enjoyed.
Alex, Assistant Producer: “Solar System! Most of the apps that I had downloaded before this had been utility apps – so pretty boring to look at. Before discovering Solar System, I did not really appreciate what could be done with the iPad.”
Matt, Senior Designer: “I had the original iPhone so was on the App Store the day it went live. It was really exciting seeing all the new stuff you could do with your existing device (about 500 apps went live on that first day – silly compared with almost one million now). Twitterific was exciting – being able to post on the move was what made me use Twitter.”
Catherine, Head of Marketing: “Fat Booth! It was pretty fun taking pictures of your friends. It seems a very basic app now, but when I first had it I hadn’t really seen anything like that before and the results were usually pretty hilarious.”
Aaron, Engineer: “My first app was Flight Control. It was designed specifically for the iPhone and was very much touch-based not a clumsy PC adaptation – simple but fun for the commute.”
Alan, Assistant Producer: “The first Touch Press app that I got was The Elements. It was (and still is) incredible to have beautiful photos rotate at your fingertips.”
Tony, Engineer: “The first one I was really impressed by was Flipboard. It has a fantastic interface and is so different to RSS.”
What were your first apps?
Sep 19, 2013
Posted by Shane Richmond
Apple has released iOS 7, the latest version of its mobile operating system, and it’s a drastic change from all that has gone before. The changes are covered in my new iBook, Guide to iOS 7, published by Touch Press. It also includes 20 tips and tricks for iOS users. One of them seems to surprise so many people that I thought I would share it here.
A few weeks ago, I asked users of Apple’s iOS devices to share the tips they would give people who were new to the OS. Lots of useful suggestions came back, via Twitter, but several people said that new users should be told that it’s important to quit apps that you aren’t using. I was surprised by that because, as far as I knew, it isn’t true.
The theory is that forcing apps to quit – by double-tapping the Home button to open the multi-tasking menu and, on iOS 7, flicking the apps up off the screen – you will free up system resources and minimise battery drain. It seems that a lot of people consider that to be a pro tip.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t work. Once you switch away from an app in iOS, it is suspended. iOS remembers the state it was in when you left it so that you can go right back to it on your return, but the app is not actually running anymore. The only exceptions to that rule are apps that have some background functionality, such as streaming music apps or apps that can upload files in the background. However, even those will be suspended after a certain period of time.
If an app is malfunctioning then, yes, forcing it to quit is the answer. But in normal use force-quitting apps will not make a difference. Explaining this can be difficult because some people simply do not believe it. They swear that they have seen an improvement in the performance of their device after doing it. All I can say to those people is that they are mistaken. I’ve checked with Apple and I’ve checked with independent developers and the answer is the same: force quitting apps will not save battery life or improve performance of the device.
In an attempt to combat the misinformation I’ve added that as one of my iOS Tips and Tricks in the Guide to iOS 7 that I have written in collaboration with Touch Press. It’s the first Touch Press iBook and it’s free so if you’re an iOS 7 user then I recommend downloading your copy now.
Sep 18, 2013
Posted by John Cromie
Way back in what feels like a distant era but was actually June, Apple announced iOS 7. Sitting in the audience listening to the words of the intro animation at the WWDC keynote, I wondered at the time if Apple wasn’t getting just a little carried away:
“designing something requires focus.
it takes time…
there are a thousand no’s for every yes
we start over
until every thing we touch
enhances each life
only then do we sign our work.”
Today countless millions of devices worldwide will reboot into an unsettling new world of unfamiliar icons, bright colours and borderless buttons. Is it a tall order to suggest that this might enhance our lives? One thing’s for sure: it certainly won’t without apps that expose and enhance the appearance, behaviour and performance that define iOS 7.
So Apple isn’t the only company that has been busy since June. Tim Cook’s WWDC keynote was a call to action for all the developers whose incredible apps bring the iOS appscape to life. With a stroke, the visual appearance and behaviour of many of our apps was left exposed to suddenly feeling dated and decidedly un-cool. Worse still, the critical operating system underpinnings upon which our apps sit was to undergo a revamp: there were shifting foundations, new ways of doing things, altered expectations, unfamiliar APIs – and bugs.
So began Operation iOS 7: all of our apps would have to be revised, updated and tested in time for the roll-out of iOS 7 – a major undertaking – and we weren’t even sure when release was likely to be! To further complicate matters, the early version of iOS 7 that we excitedly installed at WWDC was very likely to change substantially in the intervening period between announcement and release.
Fortunately we have a wonderfully resilient and dedicated team at Touch Press: plans were drawn up, priorities identified, tasks assigned. I’m delighted to report that Operation iOS 7 is substantially complete at this stage, with fresh iOS 7-ready versions of our most popular apps already queued up on the runway for submission to the App Store. When these updates actually become available is, of course, out of our control: with every major developer submitting updates all at the same time, Apple’s review team is, not surprisingly, overwhelmed. But they will have anticipated this, and we are confident that our iOS 7 updates will soon be in your hands.
Sep 12, 2013
Exploring Disney Animated’s storyboards, scripts, maquettes and more: here’s one of our favorite reviews
Posted by catherine.allen
We thought we’d share one of our favorite in-depth reviews so far with you of Disney Animated. Children’s Technology Review, one of the world’s leading online publications about children’s tech have given a really thorough and insightful overview in this video, from a children’s education perspective. Well worth a watch!
Aug 26, 2013
Posted by Grace Millar
Read more of the team’s favourite Disney memories and relive what started their passion for the brand.
Louise Rice, Senior Producer: Well, having produced the app it’s hard to pick a favourite film! I was a child before the days of DVDs and videos, so we went to the cinema to see a film. 101 Dalmatians is the one I remember most fondly because Cruella is a splendid villain with appropriately inept sidekicks, and I like the madness of all those puppies in that small but perfectly drawn London house.
Matt Aitken, Design: I was six and my Mum took me and my sister to see Beauty and the Beast at the cinema. I remember being really scared when Belle is in the forest and by the Beast. When I showed my mum Disney Animated she immediately jumped to Beauty and the Beast in the timeline — it’s her favourite Disney movie because she remembers taking us to see it and us loving it so much.
Catherine Allen, Marketing: As a child I remember going to watch Aladdin as soon as it came out in ’92. After that, every rug that I sat on I would pretend it was the magic carpet and would transport myself to the world of Aladdin.
Grace Millar, Marketing Assistant: Like Louise, as a child my favourite Disney movie was also 101 Dalmatians. I remember begging my parents for a coat just like Cruella’s for Christmas. On Christmas morning I was so excited to find a Dalmatian fur hat, scarf and gloves (faux-fur of course!). I’m still a little jealous of my best friend for getting the coat though…
Zara Markland, Additional Production: I have always watched Disney movies ever since I was young, but my favourite Disney memory has to be visiting Disneyland Paris when I was six. The highlight of my trip there was Donald Duck and Goofy signing my book in the hotel we were staying in. I have a picture of Winnie the Pooh at Disneyland hugging me and my sister. I also remember going to the cinema with my family to watch Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, and as the film finished everyone stood up and started clapping. It was such a great atmosphere.
Aug 22, 2013
Posted by Grace Millar
With the launch of Disney Animated now well under way, some of the team here at Touch Press started to get nostalgic about their first, or fondest, Disney memory…
Libby Mawhood, Assistant Producer: When I was 10, I sat the 11+ exam that marks entrance to grammar schools in Kent. I remember being slightly nonchalant about the whole experience afterwards, and as a result my parents were very unsure about how I’d done. Mum was so nervous on my behalf that on the day the results were due to be delivered she woke at 5am and drove round looking for the postman, before finally waylaying him and begging him to hand over the precious document. I woke up with my whole family staring down over me beaming, before Dad handed me a card containing the words “You passed! How would you like to go to Disneyland?”. It was such a TV moment as me, my two brothers and three year old little sister ran round the room manically screaming incomprehensible things about Mickey Mouse and Cinderella. Though I didn’t realise it at the time, I think Disneyland was also a treat for Mum and Dad and the stress they’d endured waiting for my results.
Stefan Dougan-Hyde, Lead Software Engineer: I have this very clear early memory of spotting a VHS of The Little Mermaid tucked away on the top shelf of a bookcase at home. My parents must have bought it for my siblings and me, but were waiting for the right opportunity to give it to us and let us watch it. I’m not sure if it was a desire not to spoil my parents surprise or an apprehension that I might break the spell of this coveted object existing in our home, soon to be ours, but I never mentioned to my parents that I’d seen it there. The movie did not disappoint.
Holly Smith, Additional Production: From working on Disney Animated I seem to have the Beauty and the Beast song permanently in my head now, and even catch myself whistling to Steam Boat Willie. Working with the visual development assets also allowed me to discover the talent of Ted Kierscey (what a man!). To see how traditional drawing techniques are still important within today’s creative world is something that Kierscey, and Disney in general, has taught me.
Matteo Cocco, Additional Production: Robin Hood is my all-time favourite Disney film. I have fond memories of watching it as a kid – on VHS at that time! Robin Hood was my favourite character because I enjoyed the sense of adventure he brought, and the notion of stealing from the rich to give to the poor made for such an exciting plot. I used to love watching it time and time again with my mum.
Mari Volkosh, Additional Production: The first time I arrived in Paris to live in France, my Dad picked me up and took me straight to Disneyland Paris. That’s my first memory of arriving in France! My favourite character would have to be Hades from Hercules. As a child growing up in Russia I used to watch it all the time, and I still quote it to my little cousin now.