Following up on an announcement made earlier this fall, Quark is expanding its App Studio into a cloud-based platform that uses HTML5 to create interactive apps from pre-existing content.

In its announcement, Quark said its revamped App Studio platform “takes the risk out of digital publishing” because it allows designers and publishers to use familiar tools, such as Adobe InDesign, QuarkXPress, HTML5 or XML to create the original content before uploading.

In the platform, HTML5 is used to convert content for Apple’s iOS devices, Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablet, and Android smartphones and tablets.

App Studio.png

Built on PressRun

The platform allows interactivity and rich media to be added, including slideshows, video, audio, animation, Flash, 360-degree images, scroll zones, cross-linking, swiping, pinching, zooming and more. Apps feature searchable, fully selectable text, and are designed to promote sharing, tagging and other social media interactions. File sizes are kept small to facilitate downloads.

In the fall of 2011, Quark released App Studio for QuarkXPress 9.1, which was intended to simplify the process of creating applications for Apple’s iPad through the use of QuarkXPress. With the release of this new version of App Studio, the company has said the older one will be renamed Quark AVE Publishing, and will continue to support existing customers.

The new platform combines Quark’s existing digital publishing tools with the technology Quark obtained in May, when it bought the UK-based digital publishing software company Mobile IQ, maker of the PressRun cloud-based platform for mobile publishing. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Quark itself had been purchased in August of 2011 by the investment firm Platinum Equity. Quark executives have told news media that the company is interested in making “strategic investments” to expand its capabilities, and Mobile IQ was the first.

Time, BBC, NEJM

Among other projects, PressRun had been used to create a custom magazine app for Time Inc. and digital versions of the BBC Good Food magazine and the New England Journal of Medicine. The central concept for PressRun and now App Studio is to allow publishers to see interactive content for mobile devices as simply another step in their current workflow, using existing tools and without the need to create expensive, custom-coded apps.

Gavin Drake, Quark’s vice president of marketing, said in a statement accompanying the announcement of the new App Studio that his company was looking to create a “familiar and sustainable path to app creation and digital publishing.” The resulting platform, he said, allows users to “get started with App Studio quickly to publish across devices affordably,” and added that no other solution “makes it easier to create highly interactive, branded apps for tablets and smartphones.”

DPS, App Press

The cost of entry for users of the new App Studio is low. Plans start at US$ 199.95 for a single edition app like a children’s book or US$ 99.95 per month for a multi-issue publication, such as a monthly magazine. Once an account is created, designers can log into App Studio within QuarkXPress or InDesign.

The new platform is intended to step up Quark’s competition with Adobe’s Digital Publishing Suite (DPS), which has formed an alliance with multi-channel publishing software provider WoodWing, as well as to compete with offerings from other vendors such as App Press. A key strategic move on Quark’s part is to support Adobe’s InDesign application, for which Quark has even offered a free e-seminar.

App Press has largely been targeted at artists and others seeking convenience and flexibility, while DPS/WoodWing has its eye on enterprise users with access to technical support. Quark’s new App Studio is aiming for publishers and designers, especially smaller ones with little IT help.