In April 2011, the scientific publisher Springer made a basic version of its SpringerImages mobile app available for free to iPhone and iPod touch users. This app allows you to access their database quality images and:
- View images and related text.
- Search image captions, keywords and references to refine search results.
- Bookmark images for later research.
- Email images to your friends and colleagues.
Like so many apps on the market, SpringerImages has multiple subscription levels. The free, basic level allows viewing of images from Open Access, peer-reviewed articles,which amounts to about one-tenth of the three million images in their database. If you choose to pay for improved access, the options include “Medical and Life Sciences (Mobile)” for $29.99, and “All Subjects (Mobile)” for $49.99 per their sign-up system.
The “Home” screen feels crowded, with the top most item showing a tally of the number of images in their database and the number you actually have access to. Below this are a search box, a button for advanced searching, and a list to browse by topic that is so narrow that the user is more likely to select a topic rather than brush to scroll.
I offer two suggestions for making this app more widely available. First, many libraries and other institutions subscribe to SpringerImages for their quality content. Why not offer free or reduced-price access to the equivalent mobile version for students, faculty and librarians? This would get their product in the hands of more end users right away, and have the potential of bringing in new customers down the road when students graduate, or faculty & librarians change institutions. And second, while this app can be used on the iPad, a tablet-friendly version would allow for a better browsing experience.
Do you have a favorite medical images app you use? Tell us about it!