Today Apple is introducing a new collection in the Education section of the App Store entitled “Real-World Learning.” We’re honored that our Art Authority K-12 for iPad app is one of the five titles they’re featuring. For each app in the collection, Apple has created a free set of lesson plans tailored towards real-world learning with that app. In our case, their multimedia iBook “Art Authority Lesson Ideas” provides specialized plans for ages 5-12, 12-14 and 14-18. And the lessons are not just about art. Art Authority is used as the jumping off point for lessons about Literacy, Social Studies, and History too.

RealWorldLearning

The plans include both app-based and real-world activities, such as museum visits, poem writing, and drawing. One activity is specifically based on Picasso’s The Old Guitarist, and another is about the impact of the Byzantine Empire. Objectives, overviews and even rubrics are provided for each activity, along with the activity details.

Apple feels that the benefits of the plans include:

  • Enriching the classroom with works of world-famous artists
  • Enabling comparison of works within the app, and to real life
  • Engaging students and building anticipation by exploring artists before visiting real art museums
  • Inspiring work in other subjects.

This is not the first time that Apple has featured our app in a high visibility education event. It was also called out by Phil Schiller as one of seven “amazing” iPad educational apps in a Special Educational Event at the Guggenheim Museum, and has been featured in a number of Apple’s Back to School programs.

We love it that Apple loves our app. As Apple continues changing the world in incredibly meaningful ways, it’s nice to know that we’re helping out too.

Year 5 of the Art Authority Summer Intern Program kicked off earlier this week. For the first time, orientation was held through a couple of multi-person Google Hangouts. Over a dozen interns participated, with the sessions led by Art Authority’s intern manager Celia. Art Authority’s president, Alan, also dropped in. We expect close to 20 interns by the time they all get started.

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The kickoff was very successful. Interns could see each other and Art Authority staff, as they shared a bit about themselves, learned details of what they would be doing over the summer, and asked questions. Google Hangout was particularly appropriate, not just because it enhances the way interns can learn and interact, but also because it serves as a great example of one of the main goals of the program: helping modern-day art majors become familiar with Internet-based tools that will be essential to many of their jobs in “the real world.”

The Art Authority Summer Intern Program is in fact structured around this goal of getting ready for the current-day Internet-enhanced real world. Interns work from their dorm rooms, home offices, or other location of choice, with the principal requirement being a good Internet connection. They use, and thus become intimately familiar with important Internet tools like Google drive, Google docs, and Skype as key parts of their day-to-day activities. Not to mention using and becoming familiar with apps in general and our industry-leading Art Authority app line in particular. And they learn how to structure and allocate their time in a “non-traditional” office environment.

Of course being art majors, we also want them to learn about art, while helping to enhance our art apps at the same time. This year the Intern Program is focusing on less well-known, but still significant, western artists, none of whom are currently in the Art Authority collection. Using mainly Internet-based information sources, each intern will be become familiar with a different set of these artists, and help us in adding a number of works by each artist to the app. In the process, we hope they will gain invaluable insights into the artists involved, but more importantly into the Internet-era processes that go into creating a leading-edge modern-day art resource like Art Authority.

Stay tuned for more about the program throughout the summer.

Today, on the heels of our app’s and the iPad’s 5th anniversary, we are announcing year 5 of our very successful summer intern program. As we discussed two years ago in this blog, the Art Authority Summer Intern Program offers art and art history majors a 21st century alternative to traditional art docent internships. By working on our cutting-edge app and database, technology-focused students gain experience with and exposure to a set of tools they’ll need as “art goes digital.”

We here at Art Authority have learned a lot over the past five years, both as far as how to run the intern program and as far as what’s needed to keep the app line on top. And it’s been working, as exemplified by this recent review.

Students have learned a lot too, gained credit towards their major, and even found jobs as a result of the program (one of them works here!). And of course it’s not just the Art Authority app now, but also Art Authority K-12Art Alert and community.artauthority.net. Even an iBook. So we’re really looking forward to another great and meaningful summer for all concerned.

If you or anyone you know is curious about the program, please check out the Summer Intern Program Web site for more information and an application form. The number of spaces are limited, so anyone interested should apply as soon as possible.

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Five years ago today Apple shipped the iPad, and Open Door Networks shipped Art Authority for iPad. And the rest is history. And art.

The New York Times called the iPad “a completely new experience — and a deeply satisfying one.” And it called Art Authority “an experience unlike any other.” In our day-one announcement we said the two were clearly made for each other, and we were right. Within the first few days, the app was in the top 100 grossing app list, just below Angry Birds!

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Over the past five years, Apple has made numerous enhancements to the iPad, and created a family of devices. Likewise we have evolved Art Authority, and created a product line. Here’s some of what we’ve done:

  • The app (and the iPad) proved an immediate hit in schools. Seton Hill University, among many others, has been using the app since 2010.
  • Our age appropriate K-12 version, specifically requested by teachers, has been popular as well. We also have a free iBook, “Exploring Art with Art Authority.”
  • We have nearly doubled the number of works the app provides access to, from 40,000 five years ago to over 75,000 now.
  • When Apple introduced the retina display, we not only added a number of high-resolution images to take advantage of it, but also introduced our new SmArt Resolution technology so the larger images wouldn’t slow things down.
  • We’ve added link to articles on thousands of individual works, and videos for hundreds more.
  • We’ve added major new technologies and features such as Art Like This, Art Real Size, and Art Near Me.
  • We’ve sponsored a summer intern program for art majors, year five of which will be starting shortly.
  • The app was twice named best iPad reference app of the year by Apple. It has often been in the top 10 on the App Store, and was number one in Japan at one point for a whole week.

Not bad. So what will the next five years bring? Well, to start with, how’s this: today only, Art Authority for iPad is FREE!

Today is the 20th anniversary of the founding of Open Door Networks, the parent company of Art Authority. We are very proud of our 20 years creating great app(lication)s for Apple devices.

Open Door Networks is an Internet company, and always has been. As such we have had to grow and change with the Net, as well as with Apple (the company that gave our founder his start and us our focus). It has been an interesting evolution:

  • We started as a Macintosh dial-up Internet Service Provider, then helped our home town of Ashland Oregon build and run the ahead-of-its-time Ashland Fiber Network.
  • We have been a server application provider, helping the Apple community out with utilities for many early Mac-based Web and other servers.
  • We have been a Macintosh-based web hosting service.
  • We have been a developer of Internet security software, for Apple, Symantec and ourselves.
  • We have created over 100 iPhone and iPad apps, including day-one apps for both devices.
  • We are now the developer of the number one classic art app out there.

Quite the ride! What’s next?

We are pleased to announce the immediate availability of an iPhone version of our award-winning Art Authority for iPad app. Of course, some of you may be wondering: isn’t there already a version of Art Authority for iPhone? Well there was, but that version was not based on Art Authority for iPad (an experience unlike any other, according to the New York Times).

The original version of Art Authority for iPhone did use the same database of over 70,000 paintings and sculptures as the iPad version, but other than that it was quite a different animal. Long-time Art Authority fans may remember that the previous iPhone version was derived directly from our original day-one iPhone app, iEnvision. The iPad app, on the other hand, was a from-scratch re-design, specifically targeted for Apple’s new, magic iPad, and also available on day one of that device.

We have been quite busy since the iPad’s introduction over four years ago now. With help from our summer intern program, we’ve nearly doubled the number of works in the database, and added thousands of article links. We’ve pioneered many ground-breaking features, such as Art Real Size and Art Near Me. At teachers’ requests, we’ve come out with an iPad version specifically for the K-12 environment. Not to mention a Macintosh version and our related Art Alert app. And we’ve received many awards :-)

We have not, over that time, devoted much effort to the original iPhone version, beyond minor updates for iOS 4, 5, 6 and 7. The iPad just seemed so much the better platform for looking at great works of art. Things changed significantly, however, with Apple’s recent introduction of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. Although not quite a retina display iPad, these two phones are getting close to the iPad mini in terms of display and capabilities. And they clearly surpass the iPad in terms of mobility (one of the main focuses of the new Art Authority for iPhone).

To bring the iPhone app up to snuff, and to enable the addition of new mobility and iOS 8 features, a complete re-write was needed. The new Art Authority for iPhone app is based on Art Authority for iPad, with added mobility features mainly from our Art Alert app.

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     Art Authority for iPhone screenshotArt Authority for iPhone screenshot

Here is an overview of what to expect:

  • Access to the same 70,000+ works from 1000+ artists
  • The same 8 periods, period highlights and shuffle by period
  • The same access to in-depth information on each artist
  • An improved gallery-like, scrolling thumbnail view
  • NEW: Access by location (museum) as well as by period and artist
  • NEW: Detailed location maps, address and other info on over 800 locations
  • NEW: Art Near Me: find art wherever you find yourself
  • NEW: Art Real Size: instantly see and understand the actual size of works
  • NEW: Thousands of articles on specific pieces, and on all locations
  • NEW: Search by title
  • NEW: Save works to Favorites
  • NEW: Keep track of works you’ve seen in real life
  • NEW: Share works through AirDrop, mail and social networks
  • Major speed improvements. including caching

Of course Art Authority for iPhone 4.0, which requires iOS 7.1 or later, is a free upgrade from the previous version, and is available immediately in the App Store (80%-off for the introduction this Thanksgiving weekend!). And we’re certainly not done yet. The new code base gives us plenty of room to grow. Art Authority for iPad fans may notice a few features still missing from the iPhone version. Look for these and other additional items in the months ahead.

 

One of our big goals with Art Authority for iPad is to provide you with a great museum-like art viewing experience. One of our major innovations in this area is Art Real Size, which lets you quickly and intuitively understand the size of a work of art, just as you do in a museum. We designed and implemented Art Real Size, like many of our other Art Authority features, by imitating life:

AReadingFromHomer

Works well, right?

Just as Art Authority imitates life, Paul Collins, principal developer for the Art Authority app line, had the opportunity to have life imitate Art Authority. While visiting the Philadelphia Museum of Art, he had this picture taken:

AReadingFromHomerRL

Yes, that’s him standing in front of the real-life version of A Reading from Homer by Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema. Looks familiar?

In our most recent post, we detailed how the latest versions of Art Authority have given you even more to explore in terms of ways to look at and learn about great works of art. The post concludes by pointing out that one of the best ways of exploring art still remains viewing it in the real world, at a real art museum.

Today we’re releasing Art Authority for iPad 4.9.3. In addition to providing full support for Apple’s recent iOS 8, Art Authority 4.9.3 makes it even easier to find the art you’ve been exploring, in the real world. In particular, we’re expanding the current “Art Near Me” feature to something we could call “Art Near There.” As you may well know, with Art Near Me you can get an overview of the art which is physically located within a certain distance of your current location. We also recently expanded this feature to work on a room-by-room basis, so now you can get “Art Near Me” for each of the app’s eight period rooms. When you’re in New York, for instance, you can get an overview of all the Impressionist art within, say, 5 miles of your hotel.

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But what if you’re planning to go to, say, Vienna, and want to check out what you might be able to see beforehand. In 4.9.3 you can get an Art Near Me overview for any location in the world! Simply enter “Vienna” in the Location search box in the main directory, or, if you’re looking for a period-specific overview, in the Location search box in the directory for the period room that you’re interested in. Then tap on “Art Near ‘Vienna'”. You can set Art Near Me parameters, like distance (radius) and how you want to view the overview. Then tap “Show” and explore away!

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Following up on our recent summer intern program update, we thought we’d talk about how the Art Authority museum has been evolving to give you more to explore. Not just more to explore than when it first “opened” over four years ago (on the same day as the iPad shipped), but also more to explore, in many ways, then any single real-world museum.

We of course love real-world museums, whose viewing experience cannot be replaced by any app, including ours. But the Art Authority museum viewing experience likewise cannot be replaced by any real-world museum. Since we started using Childe Hassam’s work in our intern update, let’s keep going with that.

In the update post, we mentioned that Hassam’s Art Authority collection includes 487 works. It is of course very unlikely that any single real-world museum, even through a special exhibit, would be able to gather that many of Hassam’s works under one real-world roof. The post also indicated that many of his works in Art Authority include not just standard museum details like date and medium but also items that only a virtual museum could provide, such as links to in-depth articles about the works.

The post also showed how our groundbreaking Art Real Size feature helps you explore and understand the size of the works, addressing one of the big defects of many virtual museums. And with Art Like This you can view items from across all Art Authority collections that are similar to any work (check out how similar to Hassam’s the Monet work is below).

Allies Day, May 1917

Explore Hassam’s “Allies Day” through articles, Art Real Size, and Art Like This

But there’s still more to explore too. You can view a work full-screen, and then zoom in on any part of the work, often much closer than you can get in a museum. For selected works, you can follow a link to a video about that work. And through the grid view’s chronological thumbnail display, you can gains insights into how an artist’s style has evolved over the course of their career. 

Allies Day, 1917

Explore full-screen, zoom in, view a video, compare to artist’s other works

If you do spend the time to become familiar with Hassam, or any other artist in this way, you may well want to continue your exploration by seeking out real-world museums that are displaying his works. Art Authority can help you to find and preview exhibits at many of those museums. And our companion Art Alert app can then help you to get there too.

We think you’re going to really adore how Art Authority helps you explore more!

The summer is drawing to a close already, with back-to-school just around the corner. So it seems like a good time for an update on the fourth year of our summer intern program.

Year 4 was a bit more sane than year 3, in which we had nearly 30 interns working on enhancing the Art Authority database. With time to look back over year 3 and plan, our intern manager (who came to us thanks to her year 2 work), was able to figure out how to best build upon the year 3 work in year 4.

Whereas years 2 and 3 were mainly about bulk additions to the database, year 4 was mainly about enhancements and fine tuning. In particular we focused on over 100 artists whose collections we felt were not quite up to the quality of the rest of the Art Authority museum. For these artists, we first made sure their major works were included in their collection where possible. We then went through and updated the “metadata” associated with their collection’s works. This metadata included not only real-world museum details like date, size, and medium, but also items unique to virtual museums, like links to articles about the works and videos

As an example, the Art Authority database includes 487 works by the American impressionist Frederick Childe Hassam. Before the summer, entries for only 5 of those works included links to articles about the work. Now there are 98 such links. Before the summer less than one-third of the entries included the medium used; now all but 10 do. Less than 100 entries originally included the size of the works (particular meaningful through our Art Real Size feature); now all but 33 do. And again less than one-third included the location of the actual work itself, versus all but 10 now (making finding and viewing the physical work much easier, especially with the help of our Art Alert app).

Exploring Hassam's Flags

Three ways of exploring Hassam’s Flags.

The end result of year 4 will thus be a deeper, more meaningful collection, with some important new works, but also lots of important new information about and new ways to explore many of the works.

Quite a set of accomplishments. As always, however, we hope and believe that the most significant result of the program is the additional learning, experience, and exposure gained by the interns themselves, both in the traditional art field and in the various new technologies that are becoming ever more important to that field as it “goes digital.” One of the most gratifying parts of the summer intern program has been hearing back from past interns who tell us how useful it has proven in their ongoing careers.

We have always felt that one of the key goals of Art Authority is making a difference at the intersection of the technology and art worlds. We are very proud of the fact that this difference is made not only directly through our apps, but also through other related efforts such as our community site and the summer intern program. 

Here’s looking forward to year 5!