Monday, January 7, 2013

App Review: Science360 for iPad

One of my goals for 2013 is to share apps that I'll be incorporating in my library, whether as part of programs, in-library displays, or app advisory. Here's this week's review:

Science360 for iPad App Review

Platforms: iPad
Content Area: STEM
Age Recommendation: 4+
Premise: The app provides users access to hundreds of hi-resolution images and videos running the gamut of STEM topics. The NSF curates all of the content, which it gets from scientists, academic institutions, and science centers. All content is accompanied by a date, brief description, and citation, and I would have no qualms about using the content in reference requests for science reports. The app provides users lists of related videos based on what the user is watching, making the app engaging to browse casually. Content is also tagged with topic terms, and the tag index is searchable. The NSF frequently updates content, so information in the app relates to recent and groundbreaking science work. There is also a news feature where users can quickly access this newest content in the app.
     The interface of the app is very clean and easy to use. Content is shown as thumbnails on what appears to be the inside of a sphere (with the user inside, able to navigate the whole surface, in a manner that reminded me of Cerebro from X-Men), and simple finger movements allow navigation through the thumbnails and between content. Users are also able to save favorite items and e-mail content/post content to Twitter/Facebook; these features cannot be turned off, which may affect how some libraries choose to use the app in their facilities.
Potential Library Uses:
  - Recommending in reference interviews
  - On library-owned devices for customer use (headphones may be preferred for videos)
  - In programs to share videos relating to STEM topics
Lite Version Available?: No, but the app is free

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See my earlier app review post for links to additional app review sources. And please chime in in the comments with your favorite apps and review sources!

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