I’m at Hacks Hackers Unite, where a group of eighty journalists (“hacks”) and software developers (“hackers”) have spent the weekend building demo apps that show the possibilities for news gathering and delivery on the iPad. You won’t be able to download these apps from the app store (yet) but they give a hint at what’s in store for news in the tablet era.

Since all of these apps were built in a (less than!) 48 hour sprint, they are mostly a bit rough, but provide a terrific and imaginative peek in the iPad’s potential as a news and content delivery platform.

UPDATE: I’m also live blogging the judges’ advice on how to make great iPad applications.

Here’s what we’re seeing:

  1. Lensio
    Using the Moment project from the New York Times Lens site, this slideshow app  embeds images in stories.
  2. iMacaroni and iMacaron
    A pair of related food journalism apps. The “getting started” part of iMacaron introduces users to whatever kind of food — in this case, macarons (aka macaroons). Then the recipes section contains a collection of recipes for how to make variants of that type of food.  I fear the secret evil purpose of this app is to make a room full of journalists and developers really, really hungry for gorgeous-looking cookies. You could use this framework to create a magazine based on any blog’s feed. A cheese lover could create a cheese app; a pizza lover could create a pizza app.
  3. indiemobi
    This app was built for a project that aspires to be the Hulu of independent filmmaking. You can see a live demo online at indiemobi.com. It lets you create an iPhone app for any movie. Filmmakers, get apping! In addition to embedding your video you can add more information about your film, like news, events, your Facebook fan page, etc.
  4. Big Picture
    This app offers an image-driven view of today’s news. It’s inspired by EyeWitness, but available for photographers who want to share their own work. You get photos presented with just a very modest amount of text. It looks gorgeous. If you like to absorb your news through photos, or don’t feel like doing a lot of reading at the end of the day, this is the app for you.
  5. Kid News
    Parents are spending money on iPad books for kids, so there is a great opportunity for news organizations to deliver news to kids. This app delivers news in different categories (nature, science, world, art & music, sports). All the content is curated for kids. You can go in and learn more about a particular topic. It offers a mix of serious and fun content, and kids earn points for interacting with the news — for example by voting for a story, leaving a comment, or completing a level of training as a reporter.
  6. QuizShot
    This app lets users create quizzes for the iPad. It works as a four-player game; each player gets a buzzer in their corner. The player sees a question pop up, and once she buzzes in, gets a multiple choice series of answers and selects an answer. The idea is to base questions and answers on the latest news. See a demo at QuizShot.com. The idea is for the quiz builder to become something that anyone can use so that you can make your own quizzes; you could then use this as a study aid.
  7. Who’s Reppin’ Me?
    This app tells you what your legislative representatives are up to. It geo-locates you, then pulls on Sunlight Foundation data to identify who your elected representatives are, and delivers the latest headlines about what your representatives are up to.  You can then send a positive or negative message to your rep via pre-populated Twitter messages. See the demo at WhosReppin.me.
  8. Scrap Bandits
    This video-centric app tells the story of a scrap metal recovery guys. It’s an example of how to create an app for a single story.
  9. The Greatest Love Story
    This is another example of a single storytelling experience. The goal was to create an app where the user might begin by reading a story, but can then continue by listening if they are (for example) walking to work or in another circumstance where it’s more practical to listen than read. See the demo here.
  10. NewsApper
    Disclosure: this is the team I was on. NewsApper gives news organizations an easy and attractive way of delivering enhanced content to tablet computers like the Apple iPad. You can use NewsApper to present your latest stories and features, providing additional depth, context and interactivity ghrough maps, video, social network content and related content aggregated from across the web. We used Harvey Milk Day as our demonstration story, integrating a bunch of original content in text and video to create a multi-media feature.
  11. Open Margins
    This presentation was for a spec rather than a built app. This app aims to do for books what delicious does for the web, by making it possible for people to socially share how they are relating to a piece of text. For example, you can see which parts of a text have been highlighted most often by other readers; or see other people’s comments on a selected part of text. Pinch to zoom in on just the critical bits of text (i.e. most highlighted) so that you  can skim effectively. View the demo slides online.
  12. Ephemera
    This app aims to tell the news through ephemera — objects that weren’t meant to last, like matchbooks or old photos. They populated the app with items in online archives but they anticipate that users could contribute their own bits of ephemera. A map interface lets you see the bits of ephemera that come from that location; currently it’s implemented as a list of the ephemeral items but the goal is to create something that pops up images of the items. The vision is for a form of collaborative storytelling; for example, inviting a community to tell the story of the Golden Gate Bridge through ephemera found in thrift shops. Users can collectively build a history of the city.
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