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A New Zealand firm has made an interactive Anne Frank Diary app. Photo / Supplied
A New Zealand firm has made an interactive Anne Frank Diary app. Photo / Supplied

Once upon a time, the Mac was an exciting platform and attracted exciting developments. Then it went into decline, and companies that had created stunning programs for Mac went to the Dark Side and either ported their products for PC or even, in the worst cases, turned their back.

And no, I don't mean now. I meant in the mid 1980s.

This included stellar companies like Adobe, Microsoft (yes, Word and Excel were on the Mac before they were on PC), ProTools and others - and even hardware creators like stylish hard drive maker LaCie only added PC compatibility later on.

Steve Jobs came back, the fortunes turned and Apple is now stupidly powerful and everyone has heard of it ... and companies have steadily been coming back, with Logitech recently announcing it has many more Mac-centric products in the pipeline. That's good news.

Even MYOB, the worldwide accounting software, was actually first developed for the Mac. Even more surprisingly, perhaps, it was originally developed here in New Zealand, too, like the more recent Xero which has found wide adoption.

Mind Your Own Business never really left the Mac, but it was pretty clear it was spent more time on its PC business over the last decade. But that's changing - MYOB just unveiled a range of updates to its Mac accounting suite to deliver greater mobility and advanced functionality not just to Mac, but also to iPhone and iPad users.

Also, AccountEdge Basic is now available to New Zealand businesses for the first time. This is for sole traders with less complex accounting needs and is available for $289 with 30 days free MYOB BusinesSUPPORT.

Updates in the latest release include integration with the latest iOS devices; retina display optimisation; the ability to create a new job and add new customers, quotes and scope of works on iPhone or iPad; and the option to securely backup data to Dropbox.

You can now track mileage on your iPhone or iPad then sync it back to AccountEdge, and filter expenses by vehicle or employee before adding the data to your reports and invoices. AccountEdge Mobile is a free iOS application that enables users to complete basic business transactions such as quotes, orders, and invoices on their iPhone or iPad. There's more info online.

Anne Frank's Diary

A New Zealand firm has made an Anne Frank Diary app. That's globalisation. The interactive iPad app has been made by BeyondTheStory, operating out of the UK, but BeyondTheStory Ltd is a New Zealand-originated developer of innovative multi-media publishing solutions. BTS' technology allows publishers and other media businesses to use digital formats in a fast, scalable and affordable way. Its lead product is an automated publishing platform that uses proprietary artificial intelligence and authoring tools to transform books from flat text to an immersive user experience.

It is working on digital editions for other classic book titles, including The Wind in the Willows with Stephen Fry, as well as blockbuster movies.

The Anne Frank diary app was created for Viking, Penguin and the Anne Frank Fonds - it's 65 years after the Diary was first published.

Users explore Anne Frank's world through video interviews, audio clips, archive images, educational material and original illustrated features.

The app, authorised by the Anne Frank Fonds founded by Otto Frank in 1963, is Penguin's first to market and it is available for NZ$13.99 from iTunes.

There's a trailer for the app online.

Kingsland history

Heritage-styled plaques with QR codes on them appeared last year in Auckland's suburb of Kingsland. They appear on twelve buildings including the Old Post Office and Pages Store, thanks to the Kingsland Business Society with Alternate Instinct and Virtual Eyes.
Scan the codes with a free QR code reader on your iPhone (or whatever) and you'll get some interesting history about the site right there on your device, via a mobi site.

A Russian tablet

Another interesting take on the tablet (also iPad, in this case) space is Russian-originated app NARR8. NARR8's app is free, and so far all the content inside it is too, consisting of graphic-format novels, manuals and historical pieces complete with video, interaction and more.

The digital publisher has just announced it's collaborating with Russian author Vadim Panov to adapt his bestselling novel The Secret City into an episodic multimedia series. The series will follow a similar format to NARR8s existing interactive eBooks, in other words styled like books but complete with animations, sound and game elements.

Panov is a bestselling author in Russia and has sold over five million books. He won the RosCon Fantasy Writer of the Year award twice.

Panov's works span steampunk, pentalogy (a compound literary or narrative work divided into five parts), mystery and urban fantasy, all starting with his debut novel Wars Are Started by Losers, the first novel in The Secret City series. This series already comprises 15 books and two collections of short stories.

New Zealand readers can enter this competition with a short run (five days) to win an iPad: start by downloading the iPad app for free, either from this link or from the iTunes App Store.

And the New Zealand connection? The Secret City series should be live from 25th January. Write a one-page alternative ending to the first instalment and you have till Wednesday 30th to submit it to me by email (I will pass them on to NARR8); the winner will be announced on Facebook (which you can Like to stay in the loop) and by email on 1st of February (US West Coast time).

Anyway, check NARR8 out and tell me what you think, as the digital publishing space is developing and hasn't quite found its metre yet. Maybe this is it. Panov himself says "In terms of graphic novels, I don't find classic ones interesting because the 'graphic' part overrides the 'novel', and I'm a person who fancies text more than art. The art itself is fine, but it's not something I myself can relate to. But when there's a good balance between art and text, now there's something to talk about which NARR8 accomplishes. I believe this is one of the modern paths of development for literature as a genre. It's not entirely clear as to where this may lead in the future, but it's certainly intriguing. I like experimenting, and participating in daring new ventures so when NARR8 approached me, I was all for it." Hear hear.

Imagine what NARR8 could do with Boris Strugatsky's Roadside Picnic.

Investment pays off

The free Forsyth Barr Investment Insights app I mentioned back in December is currently number one on the iPhone Appstore Finance Apps in "What's Hot". The app was updated 18th January and is under further development.

The FB Investment Insights app has been tracking well since its release in December 2012, according to the company. The number of downloads is commercially sensitive, but they are pleased with how downloads and updates are tracking. The current status is number one in the What's Hot section of the iPhone App store Finance Apps, suggesting the app is well received by users. Feedback internally has been very positive amongst the FB Advisor community, which has been promoting this with clients and professional contacts.

The app has a newsfeed feature which picks up market news from the NZ Herald and other NZ media, plus from Australia and beyond. Otherwise the amendments have focused on stability improvements.

- NZ Herald

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