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Going Mobile

Things are looking tablet rasa

David Schoonmaker

It’s been a long time (too long!) coming, but a mobile version of American Scientist will finally arrive with the July–August 2013 issue. At least to begin with it will be for the iPad only, and the app that serves up issues will be available for free at the Apple App Store. Other tablet versions may be forthcoming after we catch our collective breath and as demand suggests.

All Sigma Xi members will have the option to receive the iPad version, as well as the existing downloadable PDF and the browser-based digital editions. Subscribers who purchase combination subscriptions will also have access to all those versions. The announcement e-mail you receive will have the appropriate pointers. Also, anyone will be welcome to purchase individual issues, and the launch will make available the previous six issues (July–August 2012 through May–June 2013), along with July–August 2013.

I’ve actually been reviewing PDF digital editions on my iPad for nearly two years. It’s workable in iBooks, but navigation is less robust than it will be in the full iPad version. To be honest, I don’t actually read American Scientist on my iPad, as by the time it becomes available, I’ve practically memorized the contents. I do read a couple of other magazines on my tablet, though, and I think the format has much to offer. That said, we have no intention at this time of offering a phone version. We experimented with such a version a few years ago and abandoned the effort; it was like trying to read a magazine through a camera viewfinder. No one lamented the loss.

We expect the tablet version to be an evolving project. Initially it will have a modest set of added features, but as time and resources allow, we plan to make it a full-featured and distinct edition of the magazine. I personally think that there will always be room for paper, but I also have no doubt that the tablet is here to stay.

That’s not all that will be new with the July–August issue. In it we plan to introduce a new column tentatively called “Technologue.” This will bridge some of the space between “Computing Science” and “Engineering,” allowing us to explore topics such as nanotechnologies, power distribution systems and so forth. We’re working on establishing a slate of six authors in different fields, who will rotate through the year to give as much breadth as possible. Stay tuned!—David Schoonmaker

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