[iPhone] Take a captivating 3D walk through the solar system with Solar Walk

The added bonus of reviewing apps is that you get to see many more apps than you would have normally. I often end up downloading apps that I would not ordinarily consider useful for a phone or even have any interest in myself. What I have realized is that if I didn’t review apps, I would have missed out on some great applications that bring app development to a whole different level. One of those apps is Solar Walk – 3D Solar System model.

What is it and what does it do

Main Functionality

Solar Walk takes you on a journey through the solar system, providing exquisite views of every planet with accompanying detailed descriptions.

Pros

  • UI is absolutely breathtaking! A pleasure to view.
  • Planets and their surrounding moons are impeccably designed and accompanied by detailed descriptions
  • 2D or 3D view modes; also an option to connect to an external 3D HDTV display
  • Full zoom ability and rotation to see the big picture or every little detail
  • Ability to either find a planet by manually spanning the universe or by search
  • Searches for major satellites, stars, dwarf planets, asteroids, comets, and more
  • The ability to change time in order to see past views of the solar system
  • Can save, print, or share (Facebook & Twitter) any screenshot
  • Eight nicely made movies based on the Earth

Cons

  • Large download (a third of a gig)

Discussion

Though I am not an avid astronomy buff, I admit that the Universe is quite intriguing to me. When I am channel surfing and see specials on the Discover Channel (or a similar TV channel), I often times will be in awe of the largeness and uniqueness of the Universe. So when I was reviewing Solar Walk, it basically reminded me of one of those specials rolled up in an app.

I don’t want to mislead the reader, this is not an app narrated by a celebrity voice or anything like that. Ultimately, it puts a 3D map of the solar system in the palm of your hand. What impressed me most about Solar Walk is the exquisite detail put forth to make the planet models as accurate as humanly possible. The developers literally must have taken hundreds of photos of every space objectt and used them to render the individual planets and accompanying moon(s). As you rotate around the planet using the touch screen, that detail will become readily apparent.

If you click on a planet, you can also get a great deal of supporting information. There is a full general description, detailed statistical measures (i.e. radius, density, etc), an analysis of the planet’s internal structure, a description of any satellites that have observed the planet, and a 2D photo gallery of each planet. Each planet’s moon(s) also have accompanying general information and statistical figures for the reader to browse.

That are many other interesting features of this app, including the ability to see the solar system at any time in the past. You also can follow the trajectories of any of Earth’s man-made satellites. Due to all these features, though, it is worth noting that the size of this app is considerable. The one-third of a gig download size is up there with some of the biggest games on the app market. For most users who barely put a dent in their iPhone hard drive with anything other than music, this won’t be a big deal, but if you find yourself right on the edge of your hard drive max size, it is worth mentioning.

Conclusion and download link

Solar Walk – 3D Solar System model is an enthralling trip through the Earth’s solar system. Whether you use it for your own enjoyment or as an excellent tool to teach your children, this app is an excellent astronomy resource.

Price: $0.99

Version reviewed: 2.0.1

Download size: 323 MB

Requires: iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad; iOS 4.3 and up

Solar Walk – 3D Solar System model on iTunes

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