Arches National Park iPhone App
UPDATE (July 2010): In hindsight I suppose this is predictable and I should have known better, but because of this post I’ve been inundated with e-mails from other app developers asking me to review and/or write a post promoting their product. While I think such information could be useful for many of my readers I do not want this site to become a product review site. In other words, this post was the first and last post of it’s kind — so, if you are a developer please do not e-mail me about writing a review. Thanks!
Several weeks ago the folks at Tasa Graphic Arts, Inc. asked me if I’d take a look at their Arches National Park iPhone app and blog about it — whether it was positive or negative. I absolutely love my iPhone and am always on the lookout for interesting applications, especially ones related to geology, so I agreed to take a look at it.
I already have Tasa’s geotimescale app, which I like very much for its simplicity and utility as a quick reference so I was interested to see how this app, one that is specific to a region, was done. Overall, this is a great app. Sure, I would’ve liked to test this app while actually visiting Arches Nat’l Park but, alas, I couldn’t get out there for a weekend trip :)
I’ve included a couple screenshots below that I grabbed from the iTunes page for this app. As you can see at the bottom of the screenshot, the app is divided into four sections — info, geology, tour, and park map.
The user can take a virtual tour of the geologic features of the Park by choosing a location or topic and hit ‘play’, which will go through a series of images with some audio narration. The ‘tour’ and the ‘park map’ are the best parts of the app in my opinion. The tour includes seven regions and >30 specific locations. But the best part is that the ‘map’ section lets you access this information by clicking on a part of a map (as seen in the left image in the screenshot below).
Is this app perfect? No, of course not — no mobile app is. One thing that I’d like to see improved in future versions is a better interface for the geologic map. Ideally, it would be nice to be able to zoom in or out and have the resolution of the mapped geology change*. I’m not saying this would be easy to implement — I’m sure this is a significant challenge — I’m simply communicating what it is I would like to see improved.
Finally, some may balk at the price of the app — at time of this writing it’s currently listed at $5.99. Hey, I like free (or nearly free) apps as much as the next person but, at the same time, if paying a bit more (and still quite modest) leads to better products then I’m willing to do it. There is easily $6 worth of information in this app.
In summary, I definitely recommend this app for anyone who is planning a trip to Arches soon. While I don’t think this app would be able to replace a good collection of guidebooks and old-fashioned hard-copy maps, it would make a great addition to those resources.
* this also goes for the Geograph series of U.S. state geologic map iPhone apps from Integrity Logic (I have the California one)