Was this the first app that you worked on?
The first app we worked on at Touch Press was The Elements, which is all about the periodic table. It may sound like a geeky subject... but amazingly this app has become a best-seller on the iPad. It has been downloaded now over 800,000 times. I think there are two reasons it has been so popular. First Theodore Gray's text is beautifully written, providing all kinds of surprising information about the 118 elements from which our universe is made and which offer a fascinating window on our civilisation. Secondly we have brought alive the 500 objects (element samples and interesting examples of things made of elements) with super-detailed 3D rotations that allow you to spin each rotation under your finger and pinch it up to zoom in. If Harry Potter were to find a book on the periodic table in the Hogwarts Library... this is what it would be like.
How difficult was the development process?
We had 60 days between Steve Jobs announcing the iPad and the device actually being available in the stores. We cancelled al sleep and embarked on a crash app development program. (Come to think of it "crash" is an unfortunate choice of words in this context.) Fortunately we made it in time, and The Elements was ready on iTunes when the iPad went on sale. Apple loved the app, which demonstrated the power of the iPad very well. They put it on the devices in Apple Stores and showed it in TV commercials.
What features do you think help the app stand out?
I would like to answer this question by talking about another Touch Press app: Barefoot World Atlas. This is a magical 3D globe that encourages young children to explore the world. We created it in partnership with Barefoot Books. The globe spins and tumbles under your finger and is covered in 700 animated icons that represent a wide variety of countries and interesting features around the planet. We worked hard on the sound track to play different music and natural backgrounds as you visit different places.
Is the app aimed at a certain age of student?
Yes Barefoot World Atlas is aimed at younger children from 2 to 11. That is quite a range, and we have designed the app with some features that can work for children who are too young to read as well as older children. For those learning to read, the text can be spoken aloud by BBC TV presenter and geographer Nick Crane. As Nick speaks, the appropriate sentence highlights.
How happy have yo been with the reception the app has received?
We have been blown away with the response to Barefoot World Atlas. Recently Apple celebrated the 5th anniversary of the App Store and selected 10 of their favourite apps to give away free for one week. Barefoot World Atlas was one of these and in the course of the week was downloaded 4 million times.
How.useful do you feel the iPad is as an educational tool?
The iPad is an incredible educational tool. It is personal, it is powerful and it is connected. What we at Touch Press like most about the iPad is that it is also responsive: with a well-designed app, the iPad can present information that adapts to the interests, experience and knowledge level of each student.
Do you have any updates planned for the app?
We do indeed. Later this year we will be releasing a major update to Barefoot World Atlas. What I can say for now is that you can expect lots of new content.
What else have you got in the pipeline?
For the past year we have been hard at work in partnership with one of the world's great entertainment companies on our most ambitious project to date. We are going to launch this new app on 7th August 2013. If you are reading this interview after that date, go to touchpress.com and look for an app with a mouse icon.
Max thank you so much for taking time out from your busy schedule to talk to us about your remarkable range of apps.