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Archive for the ‘writing’ Category

Apologies, I’ve Been Busy With New Site – Please Come Visit

Hi!

I miss this blog so much, I haven’t had a chance to ramble on and on at all since I launched AppTudes – a fresh site for app and game reviews for all interests, which I launched on Father’s day. I have been so lucky! I managed to get some amazing writers from other big sites like my own 148apps.com, my former home appadvice.com, and padpadget.com, appolicious, and some serious bloggers.

We’ve almost hit 1oo posts and our number have been through the roof! It’s so exciting, in seven months this is only my 86th-ish post, but that what’s great about having a tea. And the support from the developer and publisher community has been overwhelming. I hoped to do a launch-week push of giveaways, but we just hit the one month mark I don’t think a day has gone by where there wasn’t at least one active contest going, most days we have several.

And for those of you who like my SAHGeekMom picks, trust me we have a ton of kid stuff, art apps, and culture there too, but also real gamer games, general inteerest apps, and we just got an iPhonegraphy expert on board too!

By the way, if you review or have skills like copy editing, wordpress guruship, web or graphic design, come on over and check it out because we’re hiring! That page has most of our staff bios, but we have three newcomers so it’s time for an update. And, if you have skills, we’d love your face up there too.

I only have a minute, but I stopped by because I am going to flood my blog with the reviews I’ve written since I’ve been gone. In fact you are even getting on AppTudes doesn’t have…yet.

But remember when you see the posts, if there are contests attached they are being held on on apptudes.com and through our twitter account anf fcebook page, so you’ll have to pop on by if you want to enter. I hope you do, I have a lot of parents and educators on board and you might discover altogether different kinds of app, like I have been, that aren’t one I tend to run into.

I’m going to start using this blog again soon though, but less for reviews and more to discuss iOS news, and topics of interest that go beyond reviews. But don’t worry, wherever you find me writing, I’ll be focusing on only the very best apps for iOS. Hope to see you everywhere soon.

Happy App Hunting

The 

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Al Gore Want iOS Users To Know When It Comes To Climate Change, It’s: Our Choice

  • Publisher: Push Pop Press
  • Genre: interactive book, climate change
  • Platform: Universal
  • Price: $4.99 
  • SAHGeekMom Rating: 4.75 Stars
  • Recommended Age: 10+

“Climate change threatens each and every one of us, and grows more and more dangerous every day,” says former Vice President Al Gore, as he greets readers to the interactive iOS version of his book, Our Choice.

The universal book-app is the latest of Gore’s efforts to bring global awareness to the issue of climate change, and is a benchmark in digital publishing. It is also the winner of a 2011 Apple Design Award, and is both an iOS and mainstream media darling.

The app contains an abridged version of the print book by the same title along with a host of interactive features. It starts with an up close and personal introduction from Al Gore and is jam-packed with high-resolution photos, interactive maps, “infographics,” animations, documentary videos, and audio commentary by the former VP.

The writing is fluid and informative, but if one is simply looking for competent prose on the subject, the print book would suffice.

This app, powered by Push Pop Press, brings something new to the digital publishing world that is worth discussing apart from the written content.

There are incredible book-apps that were designed as apps first, but this is the best rendition of an existing title ported and digitized for iOS to-date.

If you read my bog regularly you might be confused. I just called Virtual History – The Last Supper the standard bearer too, and I stand by the superlatives for both book-apps. But, Last Supper was always intended to be an app first, the text written content was chosen to highlight the features. This is the way already published books need to adapt to nascent technologies.

The attention to providing a rich user-experience is evident right from the interactive “cover,” a 3d rendering of Earth, which will pinpoint a reader’s location and exhibit how climate change will effect that spot on Earth.

Much thought, clearly, went into creating an interactive experience that would not just compliment, but genuinely enhance both the reading experience and the message. The features feel organic.

The app has an intuitive, user-friendly navigation system – each topic can be scrolled through and specific topics of interest can be explored without following a prescribed order.

Unusual too for this type of app fare, Our Choice shines brightest on iPad, but is actually universal and looks sharp on the iPhone too.

Check out this video to peek within the virtual pages and hear from Al Gore himself:

The is not a great choice for young children – the issues are complex and much of the subject matter is (justifiably) frightening, or it should be anyway if you’re paying attention. There are many ways to raise an iOS eco-warrior, you can find some of the best  on my Green Apps list here.

But, if you have a tween or older child studying climate change, this book is an excellent study companion and an engaging way to get young people motivated to make the hard choices facing their generation.

There are going to be haters – this is (unfortunately) a controversial subject in some quarters, especially in parts of the US. Climate change deniers are not going to enjoy this app, no matter how stellar the iOS rendition, on principal. And, to be fair, Mr. Gore’s political biases are not exactly subtle.

Looking at this as an app, however, critics and users agree, it sets a new bar in digital publishing.

Climate change is real, folks, and as Our Choice illuminates, the future looks grim, especially if pervasive indifference, diversionary discourse, malaise and a sense of hopelessness persist.

But, neither is the future etched in stone. This book’s title is not accidental; it is a matter of choice.

This app will not only inform, but also help readers become proactive in the fight to save Earth. Eco-warriors, tech junkies, and readers alike should celebrate Our Choice, it’s interactive reading as never before seen on iOS.

Note: The price is more than fair for a book-app this rich and 100% of Al Gore’s earnings from Our Choice will be donated to the nonprofit Alliance for Climate Protection.

If you are having deja vu, I just covered Our Choice in brief on my best interactive books for iPad list which you can find it here with rest of the best book-apps for iPad!

By the way don’t forget about Sunday’s big Launch of Apptudes!

We JUST set up a Facebook Fanpage here. While we figure it all out, we have special prizes just for those who take the time to visit and like. And check out some of the amazing prizes you can win during our luanch week swag-a-thon here. Over 100 new codes added today so be sure to visit us on Facebook and follow @apptudes and @sahgeekmom on twitter so you don’t miss out!

Here are a few recent and reviews and lists posts for you until I can write some more fresh content up – it may be a few days, I want to dedicate these last few days exclusively to the new site, but I’ll be bck very soon with more of what you know and love from me, The Stay at Home GeekMom.

Happy App Hunting

The 

The Best Interactive Books (Book-Apps) For iPad And iPad2


Edited 6/8/11

The iPad is a great ebook reader, but it also offers a unique platform for a growing number of book-app hybrids that are pushing the limits of digital publishing. We have seen these interactive iPad books featured prominently in the New and Noteworthy and Staff Favorite sections on the App Store home page, and the titles are often amongst the top-grossing iPad apps around.

A lot of that has to doing with their pricing points, these are also some of the more expensive offerings on the App Store. And, while often featured by Apple, I noticed it is pretty hard to find a lot of user or critical reviews of these book-apps.

So, I have collected some of the best non-fiction offerings right here for you. Whether you love history, science, music, art, space travel or just love the digitally enhanced written word, there’s a book-app just for you.

Remember please that lists, unlike guides, are in no particular order, these are all great choices, depending on your interests. If I forgot your favourite, please leave a note in the comments too, I would love to discover more of this sort of App Store fare.

The Elements: A Visual Exploration

by Element Collection, Inc $13.99

If you’ve seen the original iPad ads, you’ve already met The Elements the first in a series three books (The Planets and Gems and Jewels being the others) from this publisher. They all seem to use essentially the same user-interface (UI). This original title covers the periodic table of elements, in a way that will engage even the least scientific of readers.

From the opening song listing the elements to the ever-catchy tune of “A Modern Major General” from Gilbert and Sullivan’s Pirates of Penzance, to the optional 3D specs you can purchase from the publisher to see each of the building blocks that make up our world pop before your eyes, this app puts the entertainment into edu-tainment in a serious way.

There isn’t a text per se; the data is pulled from superlative science search engine WolframAlpha, but that’s a plus since their information is the best. While this app  can’t replace a chemistry textbook, it will certainly get you through a good part of your chem 101 final in a more pleasant way than the dry tome you will likely pay $75 for in September.

Virtual History – Roma

by Mondadori.it $9.99

The first of a series of interactive books for iPad from Italian publishing giant Mondadori, Roma (read full review here) is simply astonishing. I picked this title only because it may have a more broad-base appeal than it’s equally mesmerizing sibling,Virtual History – The Last Supper, (read full review here.) Both set the bar in digital publishing for iOS.

Using a proprietary technology to incorporate a feature they call a “Bubble Viewer,” the reader can immerse themselves in a fully three-dimensional environment, by rotating the iPad as you would rotate your head to view a surrounding.

Whether it’s the Roman baths or the market at Pompeii the experience is one of seeing everything, from all sides, up and down, in rich detail, and combined with features like interactive timelines, 3D objects to rotate, overlays and more the book-app will enthral; the use of new technologies alone makes this app well worth the $10 investment.

How does it read? Remarkably well, Roma is not an academic title, but the prose is fluent and the breath, from pre-Roman Italy to the rise of the empire-toppling “barbarians” is outstanding. Whether you like art and history, gladiators, architecture or mythology, if it happened in Ancient Rome, Roma has it covered in an insightful new way.

Expect new titles from Mondadori coming soon and only The Stay at Home GeekMom will bring them to you first!

Our Choice

by Push Pop Press, Inc. $4.99

Al Gore has transitioned from yet another former Vice President on the Wally World ribbon-cutting circuit, to being one of, if not the, preeminent spokesman for the Global Warning movement. Seriously, he is at least as well known for his books and speeches on the subject as for anything he did in office.

The Vice President greets readers of this book-app with a video explaining the importance of the subject matter, and then you can swipe through the visual table of contents and pop open a page with a tap.

The app is based on the apparently text-richer book by the name title, and is loaded with videos, of course. The unfolding photos and photo commentary are standout features. If you care about the subject matter or want to see how non-fiction can exploit the digital publishing landscape you should definietely check this one out.

The History of Jazz – an interactive timeline
by 955 Dreams $9.99

 

Music lovers have a plethora of great book-apps to choose from. The History of Jazz is one of the best and most popular. The publishers call it an “interactive timeline” which aptly sums up what this book-app offers. Music is meant to be heard and performances watched, not read, so the app is a tad text-light, but very video-rich.

Using a navigation menu that look like construction paper piano keys, you can explore this uniquely American musical genre from its birth in the 1890’s through to the present day. The History of Jazz is crammed full of YouTube-hosted videos showing performances by everyone from the great Scott Joplin and Jelly Roll Morton, to Joshua Redmond, the African-American, Jewish, Berkley-based saxophonist, whose “Molten Soul” music is leading Jazz in daring new directions.

Ragtime, New Orleans Classic, Dixieland, Chicago, “Jazz Age” Big Band, swing, bebop, cool jazz, slow fusion, acid jazz, even vocal jazz, it’s all here, in a simple engaging format. Don’t plan on enjoying the app offline though, it requires an internet connection to stream the videos. But, Jazz fans and the uninitiated will learn from the minimalist, but informative text, and performances by Kenny G, Louis Armstrong, Fats Waller, Duke Ellington and almost every other Jazz great. It’s treat for the eyes and the ears.

Man In Space

by Bristol Magazines Limited $4.99

Man In Space is a digital rendition of the 50th anniversary edition of “Sky at Night Magazine”. While not a book, per se, both the print issue and the iOS version have much more to say than many of the “books” on this list.

The app traces the history of space travel from Yuri Gagarin’s first spaceflight in 1961 to the International Space Station and into the future. This BBC (Bristol, the publishers, are the BBC’s magazine division) pack this book-app with cool videos and interactive features. It contains everything in the print addition; this app is not an abridged text as are many others here.

The GUI is wonderful. The menu system is intuitive, the images are crisp and the text is well-integrated with the digital features. The 3D images are a standout. Man In Space, unlike others on this list like Woodstock or The History of Jazz, contain all the videos embedded within the app.

This is great for off-line reading, as the other books require an internet connection to stream from Youtube, but it does mean the book will use a lot of memory on your iPad. If you like outer space it’s well worth the iPad space.

Kings and Queens by David Starkey
by HarperCollins Publishers Ltd $6.99

If you are love British history, and you don’t know David Starkey it’s time to get yourself acquainted with the masterful author and BBC documentarian. His scholarship on the topic of England’s monarchies is irreproachable. He also has knack for bringing potentially dry and academic, but actually bulging-with-intrigue, stories of the great northern European island kingdom and it’s most salacious characters, to life in vivid colour.

This book-app brings you some of Starkey’s best writing, with a host of interactive features including of course, videos from the TV persona himself, but also timelines, detailed family trees, and the abridged version of the text book.

It’s too late to see it now, but a neat feature was the live in-app coverage by Sky-news, of the Royal Wedding last month. But if you are a fan of Wills and Kate, the archive is well stocked with great information and the videos too. A must-have for any history buff, Phillipa Gregory reader, or fan of TV show The Tudors.

On the Way to Woodstock

by 955 Dreams $9.99

On the Way to Woodstock, is another “interactive timeline” book, by the same publisher as History of Jazz which was updated literally the moment this list was being written, to address some broken video links, and technical glitches. But, it already had over 120 almost-perfect ratings from users, so you know the content is great: app-buyers, especially at this pricing point, are not usually so forgiving of technical mishaps. But, I get it. I also would have given even the flawed version a 4.5 star rating too, it’s really cool.

The book-app follows the tried-and-true format and essentially uses the same GUI as Jazz, but turns it attention instead to the American experience in the 1950’s and 1960’s. It was that idealized, baby-boominh American era when everything seemed possible, but a time in which any given day seemed like the most important and potentially the last on Earth. (Sound familiar? Those who don’t study history…)

Videos and text take you from the idealized 1950’s through the social, cultural and political upheaval of the 1960’s and only then delves into the Woodstock music festival, which in many ways was the culmination of the epoch.

Whether you wore tie-die and watched Jimmy Hendrix shred the Star Spangled banner live, you went to a revival festival, or you are just intrigued by this most American of times, this digital book and its grooves, can’t be beat.

Shakespeare In Bits: Macbeth iPad Edition
by Mindconnex Learning Ltd. $14.99

There is also a Romeo and Julietversion of this unusual and wholly unique offering from Mindconnex. It’s a clever new approach to studying the Bard’s works, and it’s so much fun I hope to see Hamlet, King Lear, A Midsummer’s Nights Dream and the rest of the complete works severed up in the same GUI soon.

Shakespeare In Bits offers a fully-animated and voiced study edition of the play, dynamic text features, easy-to-access modern language translations, and a complete study guide in an easy on the eyes and the brain package. The voice-actors are wonderful, speaking in a cadence to promote understudying, but with inflection and appropriate accents.

Because it’s animated doesn’t mean they dumb it down; this isn’t a Cliff Notes-style app. The full text is presented and spoken, just made more engaging, especially for young people. Whether you a Shakespeare-lover, a willing college student, or a high-schooler being force-fed Macbeth in a dry, formulaic and uninspired way, you have to check out this app and this series. iPhone version sold separately.

Andrew Zuckerman: Music
by PQ Blackwell Limited $9.99

This app is a rockers dream and has been teasing me for a long time by making frequent appearances on Staff Favourites, so I had to check it out for this list. It’s a full-course feast for music lovers, and while it’s not the newest app in digital publishing it holds up well.

It will appeal to a braod cross-section of rock lovers as there seems to be no genre barrier for Zuckerman, who has published a paper book with the same title. This book-app features over 50 musicians, from across popular genres, who “provide their perspectives on one of the most universal and yet unexplainable art forms.”

Expect portraits and videos of each included musician with extra goodies like interviews and more short films. Sorting is simple, sharing irresistible and the app links to iTunes if you want to purchase the music you hear. A no-brainer for an old groovesters and young ‘uns into the latest alike.

Ansel Adams

by Hatchet Book Group Inc, $13.00

If art and photography are more up your alley, iconic American landscape photographer Ansel Adams has a coffee-table book of some of his works out on iPad that is a treat for fans of his work.

This book-app contains 40 high-resolution photos highlighting some of his best works taking full advantage of the iPad beautiful display. This is a paring down author Andrea Stillman’s 400-piece collection in print, and focuses largely on his shots of the Sierra Nevada mountains, one of several place he called home.

You can pinch-to-zoom into the breathtaking shots or listen to the captions read aloud. The app includes a section on “Letters and Images,” “Ansel’s postcards” and a collection of three short videos featuring the genius himself. Its sumptuous eye candy for photography lovers, and those who want to see how art can shine on iPad and iPad 2.

Here On Earth

by Arcade Sunshine Media, LLC., $11.99

I first picked this title as an ideal choice for my Earth Day App List, and it still stands as a great choice for the science-minded looking for more serious fare. Or anyone interested in evolution, and all the sociological and scientific issues that attend.

Tim Flannery’s book about Darwin, Dawkins, evolution, and how to reshape our thinking on those matters, is amazing and meaty. The multimedia version of the bestselling work, “traces the history of the planet, the history of humanity, and the impact that we have had on our planet.” Before you balk at the price, the text iBook is only a dollar less; in print, it’s more. Here the text is accompanied by 25 Interviews with the author, videos from award-winning filmmakers, social network integration, even Air Play support.

It’s not for the intellectually timid, but the special features make the app much more accessible than the text-only book. Another benchmark for digital publishing.

War in the Pacific
by Gameloft, 4.99

What an unexpected surprise to find game powerhouse Gameloft teaming up with Carlson to bring great interactive books to iPad. The result of pairing a gamehouse with a publishing house of their respective statures is what you would expect: fantastic. 

And if you like this offering look for War Planes slated for release next week. Like Here on Earth, this is a serious non-fction book, by author and WWII history scholar, Richard Overy, and the app faithfully renders the text.

Features added by Gameoft to the digital version include a foreword by Dale Dye, Senior Military Advisor to HBO’s The Pacific and Band of Brothers, which engages the reader from word one, by clearly delineating the experiences specific to soldiers in the Pacific theatre, along with archival documentaries from 1945, animated maps and some really interesting facsimile documents.

Even if you didn’t catch the mini-series, and you’re not a war votary, there’s a lot in Overy’s fluid prose for any reader to connect with. This one should not be missed by anyone looking to enhance their understanding of the Second World War.

Of course there are many other great choices, I can’t cover them all, but if I missed your fave please leave a note in the comments.

I’ll be back later with some really big news, and of course have fresh reviews, contests and other fun stuff for you later this week. For now, please enjoy some of my most recent and most popular reviews and guides from the list below.

Happy App Hunting

The 

 

Welcome AppTudes! A Brand New Site For App Reviews: iOS Mac And Android Coming Soon

Happy June! The Stay at GeekMom is proud to announce:

Please welcome AppTudes: New attitudes about apps!

Watch for www.apptudes.com, going live: Father’s Day, June 19, 2011.

Our team of experienced writers will bring you side-by-side app reviews, exclusive contests, App Store shopping tips, insider looks at hot apps before they launch, and breaking mobile-tech news. Look for side-by-side Android vs. iOS match-ups too.

What is apptudes.com?

What sets apptudes.com apart from other review sites, is our attitude towards apps and games on iOS and Android devices – we love them!

We are super-jazzed about bringing them to you in a new format of side-by-side reviews from two or more experienced writers at one time.

You may get an “Android vs iOS match-up”, a “he said – she said,” or “home user vs. small business vs. power user” review, depending on the app in question. We will give you multiple viewpoints to help you spend your budget wisely on the apps best suited to you. We are an opinionated group, so expect lively debate!

If it’s hot, we’ll have it. Our staff of writers will look at chart-topping or buzzworthy games (tons of games) and apps, with a “10-tudes” multi-angle rating system that will steer you to just the right apps and games for your Apple iDevices, and coming soon, Android devices.

Jailbreak apps on the Cydia Store will be covered too.

Keep your eyes peeled for “break it down for me” guides that will look at apps in a single category and tell you which ones you need, and which ones to stay away from. We’ll help you navigate through the App Stores’ chaos, and provide laughs along the way.

Swag-a-Thon Sponsor

Stay tuned for more developments coming soon! Be sure to follow Sue (@technopinksue) and Lisa (@sahgeekmom) on Twitter for what’s coming up and to get access to promo codes, iTunes gift cards, special contests, giveaways and swag.

You can add @apptudes now too, so you’ll be the first to catch our huge launch-week swag-a-thon full of giveaways and contests.

Here’s just a sneak peek at what’s coming you way from our Father’s Day Launch Week Swag-a-Thon sponsors:

            

  • Free premium online and multi-mobile platform radio subscriptions from the best music discovery and custom station provider, Slacker Radio (www.slacker.com)
  • Overdamped Artist Series (Van Gogh HD, Monet HD, Vermerr HD, Da Vinci HD etc. huge catalog) mega-promocode slam
  • Free app and game promo codes from Nosy CrowMochiBits, Dreamix Studios and many more
  • Quick-Contest giveaways on Twitter (coming soon to Facebook)
  • iTunes gift card contest sponsored by Kid’s Corner and My Scrap Life developer Dirk Bost
  • Something very special from developers Owlchemy Labs, creators of the smash game Smuggle, er Snuggle Truck!.

And, those are just some of our upcoming prize offerings; you’ll have to follow us to catch them all!

Thank you in advance for your support and follows. We are passionate about mobile devices, apps, and developers. We can’t wait to bring you great information on how to get the most out of your iDevice.

Please direct press and general inquiries to info@apptudes.com and we will see that it gets to the right person for a speedy reply.

Advertise on our site! Amazing monthly and annual deals for launch day sponsors: info@apptudes.com

Developers, writers, and job seekers please click here for more information on our dev corner and dedicated forum, as well as a list of open positions for experienced applicants and student/novice internship options.

We can’t wait for you to see our new attitude towards apps, coming soon: www.apptudes.com

Happy app hunting, stayed tuned for more info coming soon!

The 

p.s. Sue and Lisa are still proud members of the best iOS site on the web, www.appadvice.com. Watch for our reviews there and be sure to get our top-30 app here, to help you find the best of iOS for your device, right on your device!

Virtual History – The Last Supper: A New Bar In Interactive iPad Books.


Virtual History – The Last Supper

Also known as: Virtual History – Ultima Cena outside the US.

  • Publisher: Mondadori It
  • Genre: interactive book, art book, education, travel
  • Platform: iPad Only
  • Price: $9.99
  • SAHGeekMom Rating: 5 Stars
  • Recommended Age: All Ages (not aimed at young children)

CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED– winners were notified privately by email and DM.

Mondadori’s new series of educational book-apps are changing the face of digital publishing on iOS. One of the primary inspirations for my blog was the January publication of A Virtual History – Roma (released as Rome – A Virtual History, I believe) by the European publishing giant.

Mondadori HQ

Apple was featuring it prominently on the App Store, but I couldn’t find any reviews. I bought it and my jaw almost hit the floor. Stay at Home GeekMom was born a few days later, in part to fill that void. I don’t mind paying $10 for a good book, but it’s a lot to risk blind.

So I wrote about it, but never in my wildest dreams did I think that a public company the size and with the reputation of Mondadori would care.

I wrote it for you. I didn’t contact them or even send them a link (rookie mistake), but it became my most popular post and the one most often referred here by major search engines, so I keep it up to date. You can read it here.

Last week, when I saw that they had a second offering in the same vein, Virtual History – The Last Supper, about Leonardo Da Vinci’s masterpiece, from multiple thematic, historical and artistic perspectives, I didn’t think about the cost. I dropped the $9.99 and sat back to enjoy.

If you happen to have a passion for art, books, and apps, you’ve stumbled onto the trifecta.

I was pleased with the prose and equally impressed with the perfect balance of information and interactivity, a tightrope act for anyone on a foray into this market.

I was going to review, and rave about it; I didn’t need anything, but wrote Mondadori as a fan, even if I did use the press link. And, since I am heir to the chutzpah throne, I dared to pitch a giveaway.

I am thrilled; the folks at Mondadori are open and generous. I’m sure they will appreciate the publicity on appadvice.com, but someone like me is not going to impact the bottom line for a company that is the third largest magazine publisher in France. They own a 27 percent market share of all print books in Italy and they team up with Hearst to publish “Cosmo.” They really don’t need help from ‘lil ol’ me.

Seriously, I am so flattered to have received a reply much less codes to share with you.

But, aside from showing that Mondadori people are good people, it let me know the company is fully invested in iOS development, no matter how small a percentage of their overall endeavours it currently is.

From your perspective, it means that if there are glitches, I didn’t find a single one, but if there are, they will be fixed and if Mondadori can enhance the experience, they will.

And, it bodes well for more of this sort of app-fare to follow. That’s my ulterior motive; I want this app to sell big, so Mondadori and other world-class publishers flood the app store with more, more, and more.

To say you could not get this much for less in print is an understatement. If there is such a thing as a dollar-to-feature ratio, this app is a steal.

Mondadori teamed up with and uses Applix’s- patent pending technology for the standout feature: a 360 degree panoramic 3D immersion into images based on many of the most interesting areas of discussion. It’s called a “Bubble Viewer.” which, if you look at the pic on the right up there, you’ll see is apt. You feel like you are in the painting (or room, or courtyard,) not just looking up close.

Their first title, Rome, had the same viewer, but it was a bit clunky on my iPad. An update improved it, but I tested this new offering on my iPad 2 and it’s spectacular.

Here’s a short promotional video:

You can lift your iPad and turn it to view, for example, Milan’s Santa Maria Delle Grazie Refectory, and explore it as you would in real life, by looking (holding the pad) up, down, and all around.

I thought I’d seen this before, but wow! It’s so fluid and the environments are so graphic and detail rich. I reacted with the same excitement and wonder as I did before writing about apps became my trade, not just my passion.

It is worth the $10 even if you have absolutely no interest in the subject matter, just to see how it all works.

Other interactive features include progressive timelines, overlays, three-dimensional objects to rotate and more. They are extremely polished and hiccup free.

The written content is solid. It’s not dense, you can get through it quickly, but the breadth is outstanding.

The prose, I am assuming a translation from Italian, is neither pedantic nor patronizing. They don’t dumb it down. It’s not a scholarly work, you can read the text in an hour, but the writing is very good, and they don’t shy away from polysyllabic words when appropriate.

The features, however, make the app accessible to all. Even my energizer-bunny of a kid stopped and stared for a few minutes although he is more into Roma, because of the 3D gladiators.

There is an introduction and five chapters with various subcategories:

  • Inside the Last Supper
  • History and Studies
  • A Brilliant Project
  • The Mysteries of the Code (which will appeal to fans and haters of Dan Brown’s bestseller and the major motion picture, The Da Vinci Code)
  • From Da Vinci to Today

The introduction includes a tutorial worth checking out, but the GUI is intuitive; you’ll find everything if you tap around.

“Inside the Last Supper” is the biggest section, filled with information about the artistic innovations, the “protagonists” of the work,  (le mot juste) and details like what is (and isn’t) on the table.

Most pages are accompanied by one of the features discussed above.

The other chapters are smaller, but go into greater detail on specific areas. And the special effects are present, but not excessive. If the text says it all, they let it do so.

The digital elements are chosen carefully to enhance the reader’s understanding of the subject matter, and, it seems, the areas of focus were chosen to show off the features. It’s a perfect blend and makes the reading experience pleasurable.

The app is not about the controversies surrounding the art. Its primary focus is on the fresco, as it should be.

Where they do address Brown’s book, however, they politely, but cheerfully, debunk his theories one by one with brief, scholarly facts.

I’m no expert on Renaissance art or politics, nor do I know much about conspiracies, so I’m not going to editorialize.

But, the book doesn’t seem to have an agenda, just an interest in pointing out that there are simple and viable explanations for the mysteries. Call it an Occam’s razor approach.

The developers must have done research on the comments about other pricier App Store offerings that are image-rich.

One of the most common complaints is deftly avoided; you can minimize the text box on any page, to fully explore the image below. It’s the type of small touch that makes the app shine.

I would have used a bookmark feature, had there been one, for review purposes. And, these old eyes would love scalable fonts or a pinch-to-zoom feature for the smallish text. But, these are small matters, as this is still hands down the best book-app I’ve seen.

I poked around on Mondadori’s website and found their mission statement:

The company’s mission has always been to encourage the broadest possible dissemination of culture and ideas, with a product range that covers all genres and reaches all readers, combining a love of culture and editorial quality with market rules and a capacity to identify and anticipate change while respecting and protecting the values that underlie the publisher’s role in civil society

To that end, Virtual History – The Last Supper (Ultima Cena in some App Stores) is a complete success.

If you want to peek at the future of digital publishing you have to get Virtual History – The Last Supper. It’s a must-have for iPad and iPad 2 owners; few apps will make your device look this good.

Want to win a copy? You can enter a draw for two codes on my review on appadvice.com, but I have one saved just for my loyal readers.

Leave a comment about why you want this, how you would use it, what you think of their other title, Virtual History – Rome, or anything relevant, and frankly for this one I’m going to pick the reply I like the best. This is not just a freebie, it’s gift I hope you will treasure, and I want it in loving hands.

Added 5/28/11: You can earn an entry into a separate RANDOM draw. Just use the share button below or the Tweet link on top to share this review on Twitter. tweet and retweet it yourself and you’re in. Remember to include @sahgeekmom so I can find you!

Contest Closes Tuesday, June 1, 2011, 9:00pm PDT. Good Luck!

Happy Memorial Day Weekend to my US friends and family. I’ll be back with a complete list of the best interactive books for iPad here and on appadvice.com. And, mark your calendars and add @apptudes to your twitter feed to be the first to know about an exciting new venture in app reviews! http://www.apptudes.com,  launching 19 June, 2011!

In the meantime, don’t forget to enter the Scrap It Contest for a chance to win one of three iTunes gift Cards, up to $50 value, click here. And here are some of my recent and most popular reviews and lists to keep you busy.

Happy App Hunting

The 

The Stay at Home GeekMom Weekend Edition: The Best Apps For Earth Day. All iOS Devices.

Green Apps! The Best Apps For Earth Day. All iOS Devices.

Go Green and Learn More About Our Beautiful Home: Earth.

For All iDevices, Ages, Interests and Budgets.

Wow it’s been so long I hope you guys remember me!

With holidays and my added gig at appadvice.com, writing AppLists and AppGuides (lists are like this post, a list of different apps, related in a broad category, in no order, guides rank apps in a single specific genre) I’ve hardly had a chance to breathe. But it’s fun.  =D

Ok so Earth Day is fast approaching, but every day really should be Earth day, especially if you have kids. I don’t have to tell you it’s their world we’re mucking up and they have the most to win or lose.

But we all can do with some education, and some tools to make being green easier. And there are many increbible ways to view our planet with iOS apps. Once you check some of them out, you will learn or remember why Earth is so special no matter what lens you view it through, and desrving of loving care.

This is a reprint from my first two app lists, all for Earth Day.

Part One is a list of iPhone/iPod touch and universal apps that can help you find practical ways to make changes, and stories and games to engage your little eco-activists.

Part Two are iPad and Universal apps that show you Earth’s beauty, history, science and natural splendour in spectacular and creative ways. There are many great choices for young students to learn and play with too. In total here are 21 green apps for iOS.

Please check them both out, the  lists follow each other in a single long post rather than being split in two as usual so you can have them in time for Friday, April 22, 2011.

Green Apps For iPhone

There are lots of ways to be a part of the solution on Earth Day and around the year. Whether you want to learn more, do more, conserve more, or educate your kids, there’s a green app for that.

My Recycle List by 1-800-Recycling.com (Free)

Everyone knows recycling is a key factor in any Green effort. But it’s not always easy to know where to bring everything or even what, specifically, is recyclable. This app offers a solution by helping you create a very specific list from nine categories of common recyclables, and then finds a location near you that accepts them.

Green Outlet by Key Lime 314, LLC (4.99)

One great way of conserving energy and reducing your electricity bill is to find out which appliances are the biggest drain in your home. Here’s an app that does that for you.

Enter your current rate (per KW hour) select anything from an xbox to a fish tank and see what it’s really costing you and the earth. The app even calculates your carbon footprint.

The Four Seasons – An Earth Day Interactive childrens story book by Tab Tale (Free)

There is not a more receptive, nor a more important group to educate about the environment than children. It’s their future that is at stake after all. This beautiful free ebook created just for Earth Day will engage your youngest eco-warriors with a charming story, animations, and tons of interactive features. It has an almost perfect rating in the App Store.

EnvironRss by Michael Wasserman (.99)

Knowledge is power and this app gives you access to an wealth of information on all matters relating to the environment. Follow events from around the world by checking out any of the many included RSS feeds like government feeds, non-profits like the WWF or Sierra club, and even cutting edge think tanks. Share by Facebook or email, save for offline reading with Instapaper integration, and add your own RSS feeds too. A great resource.

Skeptical Science by Shine Technologies (Free)

The biggest impediment to Green efforts is that ignorance and misinformation about global warming in particular, abounds; there are doubters and nay-sayers everywhere. This app breaks down common misconceptions like “it’s not happening” or “It’s not bad” and then offers factual peer-reviewed scientific research to contest almost any irrational argument you may encounter.

Clean The Gulf by Tiger Stripes LLC (Free)

The Deepwater Horizon (BP) oil rig spill in the Gulf of Mexico created the biggest natural disaster in US history. This app Is a great way for young and old to learn about the impact and help in the cleanup. The app offers information about the Gulf in simple language and with animation to make it engaging for kids. It also provides practical ways to get involved.

Earth Hour 60+ by Earth Hour (Free)

Earth Hour has passed for 2011, but this app keeps the spirit alive all year. Interact with the Global Village and see what others are doing to make an difference. Get great ideas of small things you can do every day to change the world. Then share your own ideas with photos and videos.

Three Trees by Studio Pepwuper, Inc (.99)

This game already had an environmental theme. The object is to move water, air, and sun in order to save three plants from the ravages of dust, flooding, and drought. It’s simple, challenging, and the developers are adding an Earth Day update that promises to help explain the day and provide resources for learning more.

WWF Panda Collection Tin by WWF UK (1.99)

The World Wildlife Fund is a global organization that works to preserve animals from extinction around the globe. One way you can support their cause is to buy a virtual gift for yourself or a friend. You get a cute 3D panda tin, and the WWF UK gets research funds.

GoodGuide by GoodGuide (Free)

Changing what you buy, and even how you shop is another way to help the Earth. Some products are less toxic than others, some companies have a better environmental track record than others.

This app helps you sort through over 70,000 Food, Personal Care, Household Cleaners, Toys, and Paper products. You just use iPhone camera as a bar code scanner and find out everything you need to know. Then share the info on social media and create shopping and blacklists.

The Lorax – Dr. Seuss by Oceanhouse Media (4.99)

If anyone knows how to engage kids, it’s the great Dr Seuss. The Lorax is a cautionary tale about corporate greed, deforestation, and extinction. The Once-ler recounts how the Lorax “who speaks for the trees” tried and failed to save the Truffula Forest and its inhabitants from his Thneeds Factory. The app comes with read-it-myself or read-it-to-me options and renders the Green classic beautifully for iOS.

Lorax Garden by Oceanhouse Media (1.99)

To compliment the book, the Lorax Garden offers gameplay for any age. Where the book ends sadly (but with a glimmer of hope), now you have the chance to help the Lorax reforest the woods with Truffula trees and flowers you grow. It’s a lot of fun and brings the message that change is possible home.

iPad Apps For Earth Day

To know Earth is to love Earth. But efforts to secure our planet’s future require a knowledge of it, past and present. Only when we understand our wondrous world can we truly engage in the battle to save it. In honor of Earth Day we look at some of the very best iPad titles in the App Store for learning about our home. From the sky, through a camera lens, through animals, nature, art, history and fun, we we bring you the best iPad apps to celebrate our planet and understand our place in it, on Earth Day and all year long.

Google Earth, by Google. Free

The best way to get to know your planet is to see it, and no one brings it to you quite like Google Earth. It uses Google’s satellite imagery to allow you to explore the far reaches of the globe or your own backyard at a swipe. The app is great on all iOS devices, but it shines on iPad, especially when viewing the high-resolution images of over half the world’s population and browsing the vast nunber of geo-located photos from around the globe.

DINOSAURS iPad: American Museum of Natural History Collections by American Museum of Natural History.( 99)

They say those who don’t study the past are doomed to repeat it. How better, then, to learn how to avoid a catastrophic future than by studying dinosaurs and their legacy. The American Museum of Natural History brings their world-famous exhibits to iPad so everyone can discover the clues our cold-blooded forbearers left behind.

It contains a mosaic of over 1000 images from the museum’s archive in a collage that replicates a T-Rex; each interactive pic provides information about where the fossil was found. It’s Mesozoic eye candy.]

50 Greatest Photographs of National Geographic by National Geographic Society – 4.99 (Reg. 9.99)

How the National Geographic Society narrowed down their spectacular archive of iconic photographs is beyond imagining, but this app presents you with 50 of their finest shots. And a ton of background information too.

Features include: a video introduction from the Editor-in-Chief of the Magazine; photographer bios; background information on the photos; videos; and interactive maps and timelines. It is a bit expensive, but the way National Geo captures nature and culture is priceless.

Britannica Kids: Rainforests by Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc ($4.99)

If you have a child in grammar school, they have almost certainly learned about the fragile existence of the world’s rain forests. Brittanica (of Encyclopedia fame) serves up an interactive mix of games images and information on 21 animals and topics like “What is a Rainforest”, “Rainforest Plants” and “Rainforest Threats” It’s a great study aid, and sure to engage. Aimed at kids 8-12.

 Living Earth HD – World Clock and Weather by Moshen Chan (.99)Looking for something a little more functional? This app brings you a virtual 3D view of Earth from outer space and while universal, serves as an ideal showcase app for your iPad’s display. It features accurate cloud rendering in close to real time, allowing you to see storms as they happen from a rare vantage point.
It’s also a world clock with an alarm functions, and a weather app with a four day forecast for over 22,000 global locations. Watch sunrise lead to sunset, the seasons as they change, all in stunning hi-resolution.

Geo Walk HD – 3D World Factbook by Vito Technology Inc. (2.99)
This app provides an innovative approach to teaching kids about the world. Young users are presented with a 3D virtual globe that is spinable and scaleable. The app contains 500 pictures and brief descriptions broken into four categories: places, animals, plants, and people. There is even an interactive quiz. It’s a good choice to engage grade and middle schoolers with their planet without overwhelming them with tons of information. They call it “Edutainement”; that’s on the nose

Heritage, by Fotonauts Inc. (Free)

Fotopedia brings you the world in many wonderful ways, but none of their apps are better suited to Earth Day than Heritage. This award-winning collection of 25,000 stunning photographs from around the globe is completely free. Admire images of our beautiful planet in all its glorious colors then save your favorites to use as wallpaper or share via social media.

Here On Earth by Arcade Sunshine Media, LLC. ($11.99)

For those who want something substative, the interactive edition of Tim Flannery’s book about Darwin, Dawkins, evolution, and how to reshape our thinking on those matters, is an ideal choice.

The multimedia version of the bestselling work, “traces the history of the planet, the history of humanity, and the impact that we have had on our planet.”Before you balk at the price, the text iBook is only a dollar less; in print, it’s more.

Here the text is accompanied by 25 Interviews with the author, videos from award-winning filmmakers, social network integration, even air play support. it’s not for the intellectually timid, but the special features make the book much more accessible. A benchmark for interactive books in any genre.

TreePad by Algorithmic Botany (Free)

Here’s a completely different way to celebrate Earth Day and your love of trees year round. Treepad gives you the ability to render 3D tree models from a vast assortment of natural tree elements. It has the customizability of a top-notch art app, but with results so realistic you will find yourself making one after another and filling at least your virtual space with oxygenated wonder.

Art Authority for iPad, by Open Door Networks, Inc. (9.99)

Photos, fossils and facts are traditional ways to view the world. A path less travelled is history through the lens of art. Of all the multi-artist apps in the App Store this one offers the greatest breadth. It has everything from cave drawings to contemporary classics, taking you on a journey like no other. The app is full of hi-def images of masterworks broken into periods and displayed like an art gallery. It will take you on an odyssey through time guided by many of the most creative people to ever grace our planet. Also availble for iPhone.

Thanks for checking this out doing your part to make a greener tomorrow. I’ll be back soon with fresh apps soon, in the mean time please check out some of my recent reviewes:

Happy App Hunting

The 

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