HISTORY OF THE MIDDLE AGES 101: THE TEXTVOOK
This app doesn’t make the best use of multimedia, but it balances learning with levity. The Vook in the title refers to a bespectacled cartoon professor who introduces each of eight chapters of detailed text with a short, witty video. The videos can be viewed in full screen or through an Apple TV via AirPlay. You can even share them on Facebook. Vook’s approach is still a bit dry, but he might make learning about the Middle Ages feel a little less mundane. Simple but imaginatively presented, this app has a decent mix of detail and humour.
TODAY IN GEEK HISTORY
Among the many apps listing historical events that took place on a given day, this one stands out because it’s aimed squarely at nerds. Functionally it’s just a text timeline with a simple interface and few options. The fun lies in each day’s entries, which include the dates of film releases, TV series premieres, big events in science and technology, and the births and deaths of film stars and writers. Under each entry is a single sentence outlining the link with geekdom. That’s about it, aside from a selection of backgrounds featuring the likes of Hal 9000 and Star Wars. Not out of this world, but a nice alternative to a geeky daily desk calendar.
This is one of a series of Amber Books apps that neatly combine audio, animations and text to recount history’s biggest battles. The interface is easy to navigate and attractive and the limited information it leads to is relayed in a style that is serious but not dull. One of the coolest features is a step-by-step animation that shows the major stages of the invasion of Normandy. Another nice touch is the option to have any of the text narrated. Like several of the apps here, there is also a quiz available to test how much you’ve taken in. Professionally produced and entertaining, this is an impressive guide to the Allied invasion.
WORLD HISTORY BUDDY
At first glance, this study aid app doesn’t impress with its patchy presentation. However, what it lacks in aesthetics it makes up for in content. The Presentations section includes bite-size snippets of information, decorated with images and maps which cover a wide range of periods and locations. More entertaining stuff can be found elsewhere, including links to YouTube videos on historical topics, websites that report on history or current events, and sites dedicated to documentaries. More of a portal than an archive, it’s the most comprehensive source of information here. A study buddy anyone can use to access a large amount of historical information.
U.S. HISTORY TIMELINE
One fun way to explore history is to learn about famous people. This app has a long list of them, with one sentence for each stating why they are famous. Entries also have a link to a related Wikipedia page. America is the focus, but because many of its citizens have been influential you’ll find plenty of recognisable names here. There is also a timeline of major events in US history, attractively presented maps of the expansion of the United States and a colourful chart that shows American milestones in the context of events in other parts of the world. Makes information on important people and periods in American history easily accessible.
500 AP WORLD HISTORY QUESTIONS
Although intended as a study aid for anyone preparing for the Advanced Placement exam, this colourful app is good for anyone who wants to brush up on their world history. It presents a series of questions that range in difficulty and gives some background info with the answers. Students might also benefit from features such as flashcards. There’s no multimedia content, but a bigger turn-o might be the price: other history trivia apps are available, some free. Akin to a history textbook in price, but well designed, challenging and informative.
U.S. HISTORICAL DOCUMENTS PRO
National archives can reveal a fascinating history of a country’s political and social development. This is especially true of the US and this app does an excellent job of putting its library at your fingertips. It’s easy to find political and legal documents from before the 17th Century up to 2011. Pages can be set to scroll automatically or manually and you can search for words and phrases, and add notes and bookmarks. You can also email annotated and highlighted documents. Loads to read for anyone interested in American political history.
GLORY OF INDIA (HISTORY)
India has a rich and colourful history and this app does a decent job of telling it. It includes important dates going back to 600 BC, with handy links to more information and related entries. There are also ample pictures of historical monuments and maps of India through the ages. One caveat is that the material is largely sourced from Wikipedia, which the developers themselves acknowledge might not be accurate. If you’re okay with that, Glory Of India is an effective portal to a wealth of historical information about one of the world’s most fascinating places. Not as colourful as the country it describes, but comprehensive nonetheless.
BRITANNICA KIDS: KNIGHTS & CASTLES
The Britannica Kids series is one of the best edutainment tools available, making learning fun. Knight’s & Castles is a typical entry in the series, with a limited amount of historical info and some games. The latter are more of an amusing distraction than a teaching aid, consisting of jigsaws and other basic puzzles. Nonetheless, they might encourage youngsters to look more closely at the colourful images and information elsewhere in the app. Just what you’d expect: informative, fun and well designed.