Chris Book of AudioBook start-up Bardowl reviews D-Day app for FutureBook: First some context. I'm a technologist, my reviews will always be more technology focussed than content. I'm an audiobook fan and I listen more than I read.
I am interested in Military History and especially WW2 so when the opportunity to review a new iPad app all about the D-Day landings I jumped at the chance.
I really like the way the app has been developed, it has the perfect content for the emerging tablet platform. The app is easy to navigate and uses the extra space of the iPad screen well. The app seems to be targeted at education and those interested in war and history. It isn't an in depth analysis of what happened on 6th June 1944, there are plenty of books that offer the detail. This is the sort of app I would buy for my 13 year old son to give him a boost with a school project or perhaps something for my retired soldier father. The iPad is very popular device amongst over 60's so I expect to see more and more apps targeted at this segment.
As the app is focused on education, an adapted iPhone and iPod Touch version would do well as Amber have done with their Human Body app.
As I have mentioned I love audio so I was really pleased that Amber made the effort to narrate all content within the app. There are 3 main sections to the app and the audio narration worked well across all three:
Discover the battle of D-Day
This is the most 'book-like' like content within the app, eight pages of detailed text which also has a narrated option.
See the battle in action
This is a basic map with animation explaining how the day unfolded. Again the content is narrated. This is the core of the app and my favourite part, but actually I think more could be done with this section. I think it would have been good to display the time of day that each phase of the battle took place. Future versions could have more interactivity and animation to really use of the iPad to present the information in unique ways. I would like to be able to zoom in on a particular area of the map to see more detail. I would have liked to be able to click on objects and towns shown on the map for more information. Would be great to get some eye witness accounts from specific areas of the battle.
D-Day Landings in pictures
This allows the users to view larger versions of the images that are in the discover section and to read / listen to a small amount of text regarding the picture. Usability could have been improved if the same swipe gesture be used to move from image to image rather than having to come out of the image you are currently viewing to see the next image. This is how the user navigates in the discover section so it's confusing that the pictures section is different.
I would include a couple of extra settings into the app as improvements.
- Ability to turn birth and death years on and off to make the narration easier.
- An auto-play setting for the audio so that when a user transitions between sections of the app the audio plays without having to click the play icon.
I really like the D-Day app. The quality of the information and the way it is presented, both excellent. I love the way that for a small fee you can unlock immersive documentary experience with professionally written and researched information. We are starting to see more and more apps like this being published. I view them as a Wikipedia Plus type experience. It's not a full book but where video, audio and graphics are mashed up to provide a couple of hours worth of "Edu-tainment". The Amber Books app is a great early example of a new format.
Author: Martin Dougherty Narrated by: Martin Caren.
Available on itunes here at $2.99.
Chris Book is CEO of Bardowl a start-up Audiobook retailer in the UK (www.bardowl.com). Chris is a technologist specialising in mobile apps and mobile internet. Current job is knocking down walls at BlueVia within Telefonica (http://bluevia.com). Previously at Orange and France Telecom. Chris also organises conference on Mobile apps and the mobile web at (www.open-mic.org.uk)
Chris is a heavy listener to digital audiobooks and podcasts. This started when he managed to get a temp job at Chivers Press ( nee. BBC Audiobooks now AudioGo ) recording copies of audiobooks into cassette tapes in his home town of Bath, UK. Follow him @bookmeister
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