Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Making iPlayboy

Playboy has just released iPlayboy, a web-based collection of every issue from December 1953 to June 2011 (and beyond). For a fee, you can flip through the very first issue to see where it all began, you can marvel at the advertisements and hairstyles of bygone eras, and if you're a SIGGRAPH nerd you can get in touch with your favorite test image.

I, along with my compatriot Aseem Kishore and the folks at Applied Information Sciences, made the iPad version of this web app feel as smooth and interactive as a native app, using touch events, hardware accelerated CSS transforms, and plenty of custom JavaScript. It's certainly not perfect (yet!) but I'm quite pleased with how well you can swipe, pan, and zoom through hundreds of high-resolution pages per issue. As a way to get around 130,000 pages of content, it's pretty good.

The buzz for the site has been phenomenal, and the quantity of subscriptions already has well surpassed expectations. Most of the reviews have focused on the web app approach as a way to get around Apple's nudity restrictions, which of course is a valid concern, but there are a number of other advantages as well. For one, going through the web, Playboy doesn't have to give Apple 30% of their subscription revenue. It's also easier to support a wider variety of devices, and it integrates better with people's existing modes of sharing, allowing the word to spread faster.

Of course, all business concerns aside, I just enjoy working with JavaScript, so I'm pleased to see its potential continuing to come to light. Hopefully this will be the first of many magazines to make the leap into the world of native-feeling web apps. If Bondi Digital (the folks behind iPlayboy) have anything to say about it, there certainly will be more.

I figure it actually makes sense that Playboy would be leading the way. It shouldn't surprise us that Hugh Hefner, a man who's fought plenty for the First Amendment is now joining in the Open Web fray, in his own way.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Gimme Shiny / ffffl*ckr

I've been quiet on the Gimme Shiny front for a while, but I've still been adding features. You kind of have to know about them though… one of these days I'll get around to making them more obvious. Two of them — speed control and the ability to go back to previous images — are mentioned on this support post. Another exciting development is that Kevin has been creating some delightful new splash screens for the site! Each time you go there it loads a random one from its collection.

I've also added social and patronage buttons to be About panel (too hidden, perhaps?); if you like the site, share it and/or help support it!

In related news, I wanted to mention a cool site I recently discovered for surfing through Flickr photos: ffffl*ckr. The basic idea is that folks who create pictures that you like are probably into other pictures you'd like, so you surf from one person's favorites to the next person's favorites and so on. Very slick and engaging. Reminds me of Snapdragon (may it rest in peace).