HarperCollins released a new iPad app Thursday that will set you off on a 3D exploration through space using high-resolution visuals specifically optimized for the new iPad's Retina display.
Called Wonders of the Universe, the iPad application incorporates 210 full-color articles, hundreds of photos and two and a half hours of video from Brian Cox’s award-winning series of the same name into a single space discovery app.
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Matt Walton, Digital Product Consultant for Harper Collins told Mashable, “Wonders is the first iPad application to make use of two innovative technologies developed by the OTHER media: a 3D rendering engine used to create a truly amazing interface and a revolutionary publishing platform that provides a new reading experience for tablet and mobile: Glide Publisher." Walton added, "The 3D engine is capable of handling high-resolution textures and complex animations. Created exclusively for iOS5, it takes full advantage of iPad’s graphic engine and the superior display and processing power of the new iPad.”
With Glide, navigating through the app and reading the articles is different from what you might be accustomed to –- in a good way.
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You scroll through each article by sliding your finger from the bottom on the screen to the top. Images and video are embedded within the text, and when you get to one or the other in your reading, the app automatically makes them full screen. Photos are occasionally slideshows that can be swiped through, and when you reach a video it immediately starts to play. Swiping up or down on the screen will then close the photo or video and allow you to continue reading.
“Instead of following the page metaphor, Glide creates a simple, scrollable column of text that introduces rich media elements -- video, image galleries and interactive infographics -- at appropriate moments in the narrative," says Walton. "Whereas many applications entice you away from the story causing distraction, Glide weaves multimedia into the narrative leading to a deeper engagement.”
The app is divided up into sections that offer content in seven different realms: Subatomic, Atomic, Solar System, Stars, Milky Way, Galaxies, and Universe. Each section contains its own unique visuals in the form of 3D graphics on the screen, as well as individual chapters on different topics pertaining to the realm. The goal behind the app is one of discovery.
"We wanted the user experience to be one of unconstrained discovery, so we gave them the option of jetting off on their own through the 3D Universe, to a Black Hole for example, where they could call up related content on arrival. But, if they preferred, they could [take] Brian Cox's guided tours of the Solar System and the Universe for a more curated experience," says Alex Gatrell, Digital Publisher for Collins.
The $6.99 app is available now from the App Store. While definitely on the pricey side for an app, the graphics and content make the experience well worth it for any space enthusiast.
Have you checked out Wonders of the Universe? Let us know what you think of the app in the comments.
This story originally published on Mashable here.