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[iOS] Dinosaurs is a disappointing app from the American Museum of Natural History

Posted By Tucker On March 7, 2013 @ 12:30 AM In iOS | No Comments

mzl.bhbbgoxo.320x480-75 [1]I don’t know a single person who hates dinosaurs. How can you not love something that big, and that old? They’re just plain cool. If you’re a dino-lover, then you should check out Dinosaurs: The American Museum of Natural History Collections. If you can’t get to the American Museum of Natural History in person, this app is the next best thing. Well, sort of.

What is it and what does it do

Main Functionality

Featuring a catalogue of dinosaur-related exhibits from the American Museum of Natural History, this app includes tons of images and information about the exhibits. Each interactive photograph includes information about where the fossil was found and the paleontologist who uncovered it.

Pros

  • Features more than 1000 images from the Museum’s archive
  • No annoying ads or in-app purchases to get the full experience

Cons

  • Hasn’t been updated since 2011
  • AMNH Extras button doesn’t work: it sends users to a webpage with an error message
  • Images are just plain photographs: there are no 3D or panoramic images for users to immerse themselves in
  • Prone to crashing
  • Tapping on a mosaic image to view it at a larger size with info doesn’t always work: it can take multiple taps, which is annoying

Discussion

mzl.njjotrak.320x480-75 [2]I don’t really know what I was expecting from a dinosaur app produced by the American Museum of Natural History, but I couldn’t help feeling disappointed. Yes, there’s a lot of info…but there’s not enough amazing information. A lot of what info is included is kind of boring info about the exhibits: I want to know how these creatures lived, what they ate, what they hunted.

The information included with the mosaic photographs is great if you’re writing a report. Each interactive photograph includes information about where the fossil was found and the paleontologist who uncovered it. But for a casual dino fan, this info just seems really dry. There’s information, yes, but no story to capture our imagination. A specimen number and scientific name don’t do much to bring the dinos to life.

To be fair, there are some more extended stories in the “Stories” tab…but with no navigational buttons, most people might not realize that you can swipe to the side to see more info. It’s a foolish design mistake. And these stories aren’t long enough (or written with enough panache) to make readers pay much attention. And there are only a handful of stories anyway! This sad little app does the impossible: it makes thrilling fossils seem like dull old bones.

Conclusion and download link

In the App Store description, the developers wrote, “With 45 permanent exhibition halls and more than 30 million specimens and artifacts, there are more Collections apps to come!” But if all the other American Museum of Natural History apps are like this, I think I’ll pass. It might be a good resource for some, but it just doesn’t inspire me with awe and wonder. A trip to the museum always amazes me: this app has nothing on the real thing.

Price: Free

Version reviewed: 1.4

Requires iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch, iOS version 3.1.3 or later

Download size: 89.6 MB

Dinosaurs: The American Museum of Natural History Collections on Apple App Store [3]


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[1] Image: http://dottech.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/mzl.bhbbgoxo.320x480-75.jpg

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[3] Dinosaurs: The American Museum of Natural History Collections on Apple App Store: https://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/dinosaurs-american-museum/id351849237?mt=8

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