Just four weeks ago I wrote a blog post titled How do you read papers? 2010 will be different. Not only have we since seen the announcement of the Apple iPad, but last Monday the free Nature.com iPhone app was launched. The application gives access to the full text of all Nature and Nature News content (through until 30 April 2010, how access is handled afterwards hasn't been announced yet). A version for the Android platform was promised for April, and the app will work with the just-announced iPad. I included a few screenshots for those without an iPhone or iPod Touch. A free Nature.com personal account is needed to use the app.
The iPhone app doesn't use HTML or PDF but rather the ePub format. The Nature.com website will soon offer downloads in ePub format (an example article is here). Adobe Digital Editions and Stanza are examples of ePub readers. In contrast to PDF, ePub adapts to the screen size and is therefore a much better format for the iPhone.
References are links in the text, clicking on them opens a new window.
Figures are also links in the text that open in a new window. The figures can be saved to the iPhone Photos application.
The iPhone app also gives access to the full text of Nature News. In contrast to Nature papers, images are rendered within the text.
Nature and Nature News content, as well as PubMed search results can be saved for later reading. This content (or rather the DOI) is also available from the new Nature.com mobile apps page. Because the Nature.com mobile apps page stores only the DOI, a Nature subscription is required to access the fulltext article from there. From the Nature.com mobile apps page you can also export the citation in RIS format.
The Nature.com iPhone app also searches both Nature.com and PubMed. Regular searches can be saved.
PubMed searches will retrieve abstracts, with a link to the fulltext article via the DOI.
Papers for iPhone is another app that allows PubMed searches. You can also search for the latest Nature content, but the fulltext content is available only with a subscription and only as HTML or PDF.
Support for ePub is the most exiting feature for me, as it opens the door for many interesting mobile applications. I hope that more scientific journals will start to use the format (Hindawi was one of the first publishers to support ePub), and that we then start to see mobile apps for more than a single journal.