I have been taking another look at PageFlow in the Exactly App on the iPhone. Here are a few screenshots taken while using the App to skim through the current issue of Dazed & Confused:

Starting at the frontcover

By stroking the pages you pull them across the screen

Picking up the bead on the slider is a way of zipping through the magazine

The slider bar indicates how far through you are (here 98/132pp)

Exploring this PageFlow is a most enjoyable experience, but it is also leading me to think some more about the uses and advantages of pagination in the magazines and books that we read as digital editions.

  1. First, a note of thanks to Apple. The new o/s 3.0 for the iPhone is nifty and is making Apps like Exactly much faster and more fluid. Exactly must be using a fair amount of computation to throw those perspectival views of pages through the small screen at a rapid rate. The images in PageFlow mode are only thumbnails, but they are after all images…
  2. The Exactly App provides the page-flow view of the publication when the iPhone is oriented 90° counterclock-wise. This is ‘natural’ to the extent that the horizontal iPhone is appropriate for an open book/magazine. But it is very handy that the device can also be used (the other way up) for reading a selected page with a full horizontal screen (more space for long lines, which one finds in magazines and large format books).
  3. It turns out that Exactly needs to know whether pages are recto or verso….. it is funny the way that even small corners, and seemingly recondite corners, of our traditional understanding of what a book is, turn out to be important. The reason in this case is that the way Exactly works, recto and verso pages have different perspective views projected on the screen, verso pages only flow on the left of the screen and the recto flow on the right, as is only to be expected! Of course that matters, but who would have thought that mattered when we started out. Why (in abstract) should digital editions care about recto and verso?
  4. This idea of a magazine or book with its PageFlow coursing through the device is compelling. So it is completely appropriate that the pages are indeed flowing into and ‘out of’ the device as the App is being used. The magazine is not stored on the device. The cloud is delivering the flow and, although pumping out richly illustrated pages may look like an ‘expensive’ solution for a mobile reader, the fact of cloud-based delivery means that what was expensive is now ‘cheap’. The iPhone is turning out to be a general-purpose device which is wonderfully complementary to cloud-based services.
  5. Although the Exactly App does not store the magazine or book on the iPhone, it does ‘remember’ where it was the last time the App was used. This ability for the App to open again at the page (in PageFlow mode if that is where the reader was) is a charming and personal touch. The reality of books and magazines is that we remember where we are in them, and if our software does this for us that is a lot better than dog-earing the paperback.