Are mobile devices the future of delivering science? A panel of publishers at the 2010 SSP annual meeting presented both their views and wares.
“Building apps is not all unicorns and rainbows,” stated Steve Welch, Head of Publishing for the American College of Chest Physicians (ACCP). Welsh cited critical feedback of their application, AACP-SEEK in the iTunes store, including a lot of one-star ratings. This does not mean that publishers should shy away from building new applications for their readers. “Apps are hot,” so it is not necessary to wait until you have a perfect product before releasing, Welsh argues. Application building should be an iterative approach.
“We are big proponents of idealized design (by the users for the users),” stated SiNae Pitts of Amphetamobile. Involving users in the design of a product is critical for the development of a application.
Keir Mierle, software engineer at Google, presented Astrometry.net, a program for matching user-submitted images of star patterns onto the catalog of the night sky. A related project will also estimate when the photo was taken based on the movement of the stars. “Users love it,” Mierle said.