Now that our new Art Alert app is out, we’ve been getting questions about the differences between it and our award-winning Art Authority app (“Best iPad reference app of 2011″). The LA Times recently called Art Alert a “companion app” to Art Authority, and the two do work best together. But each app is great on its own too.

Here’s the simplest way to look at things:

Art Authority brings the world’s best art to you, and Art Alert brings you to the world’s best art.

Here are the main similarities between to two:

  • Both use the Art Authority database of nearly 60,000 paintings and sculptures, 1000+ western artists and 500+ museums and other art locations. 
  • Both present that artwork full-screen and in scrolling thumbnail arrays, with detailed captions (title, artist, date, etc.)

And here are the main differences:

  • Art Authority is a very general app for exploring, learning about, and enjoying art and art history. Art Alert is much more specific, focused on helping you find, preview and get to that art in the real world.
  • Art Alert has an easy-to-use, map-based user interface. Art Authority, especially on the iPad, has a “visually dazzling” virtual museum-based user interface with a wide variety of features.
  • Art Authority displays works from “Private Collections” and unknown and obscure locations, as well as the world’s top museums and other locations that Art Alert displays works from.
  • Art Authority additional features include access by period, artist name, title, subject and even “Art Like This.” Also automated slide shows with Ken Burns motion effect, highlights, shuffle, period overviews, and Prints on Demand (some of these features are specific to the iPad version).
  • Art Alert’s additional features help you get to the real art in the real world. Things like directions, search by city or country, and the ability to call a location directly on your iPhone.
  • Art Authority provides information on individual works of art, artists, and locations. Art Alert provides details on location, above and beyond those provided by Art Authority.
  • Art Authority downloads and displays a retina-quality version of the work where available, through our “smArt resolution” technology.

Art Alert can automatically run Art Authority if you have Art Authority installed. Just hit the “View this collection in Art Authority” button. You can then use Art Authority to explore related context, get more detail on works, view slide shows, etc. The best of both worlds!