Apple has acquired Prss, a Dutch startup that provides browser-based tools for building and creating iPad magazines. According to Dutch blog iCulture, which first reported the news, it appears to be an aqui-hire, with Prss founders and employees moving to California to work at Apple.
Prss first became widely known as the software behind an iPad-only travel magazine, TRVL, back in 2010. The software is template-driven and doesn’t require programming skills, which makes it much more user-friendly than other desktop publishing software like Adobe InDesign or WoodWing, which is used to convert print layouts to iPad-friendly designs.
Prss has a few Apple-specific features that may have caught Cupertino’s eye. The web-based suite uses a proprietary .prss format that ends up smaller than InDesign layout files because Prss intelligently resuses the same image for various resolutions and orientations. This is handy because iPad magazines still need to support Retina displays as well as lower-resolution screens.
Prss also natively uses Apple’s Core Text feature, which treats layout text as text. Finally, Prss keeps file sizes down by intelligently using AWS cloud storage, streaming information as the reader requests it.
[company]Apple[/company] doesn’t usually issue a press release when it buys a company, but it gave its customary non-denial to TechCrunch, saying that “Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.” While Apple likely isn’t going to keep the Prss service alive — prss.com is down — keep an eye on its iBooks Author software, which has a similar WYSIWYG approach, and is now likely to get a few new magazine-specific features in the future.