App Review: HISTORY Here (iPhone)

HISTORY Here iPhone App-Start Page

A few months ago, the History Channel released an iPhone app that helps users find historical buildings and other resources around them.

I’ve finally got around to using the app. While I think the app has potential, there is not a whole of functionality that makes it incredibly useful for understanding or getting more informed with these resources.

HISTORY Here iPhone App-Home Page

The app allows you to search by your current location to find nearby resources, or you can search the old fashioned way by manually typing in a city and state. There are two ways to view the search results, via map or list.

Map View

HISTORY Here iPhone App-Map Page

List View

HISTORY Here iPhone App-List Page

I preferred the map view because it was easier to orientate myself to the resources according my relative location to them rather than by distance as shown on the list view. Of course, once you click on a resource page, you’re given an address so you can easily determine it’s true mapped location. The map view eliminates a step, and allows you to quickly plan a trip to multiple resources on-the-fly.

The individual resource pages leave a lot to be desired. The app doesn’t display a lot of information, either in text or multimedia. I viewed many pages that didn’t even have a attached photo; for those that did, there was typically only a single photo. No posted operating hours, only an address, a phone number to call, and a link to the resource’s website (if any). Luckily, clicking the website link doesn’t open the native internet browser.

HISTORY Here iPhone App-Page

Users can also post items to Facebook or Twitter, and use email or favorite them. I think the app could become more useful by including more text, photos, or videos. The website link can be used for that regard, but shouldn’t the app itself accomplish those tasks? I guess I was expecting more of an interactive experience, sort of the History Channel becoming the de facto mobile app for many of these resources. Many of the organizations that keep these resources run on shoestring budgets, so mobile apps aren’t generally on the long to-do lists.

Hopefully as the app evolves over time, HISTORY Here can provide a more educational experience for nearby historical resources.

NOTE: The app also works on iPads, but it wasn’t optimized for the larger display. As stated in the requirements: “Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Requires iOS 5.0 or later.” Also, this review evaluated Version 1.2, which was released 17 July 2012.

Update: This review was updated with information regarding the version number and requirements of the HISTORY Here app.

[images via PJ]

Summly Is Useful Tool To Summarize Web (iPhone App)

Summary

The Internet can easily waste a huge chunk of a person’s time. Numerous web links and browser tabs can turn quick research sessions into sleepless nights. Finding information can be easy if you know where to look; however, finding the right information is the tricky part. And information overload is not fun or pleasant.

Distilling all that information into something useful is really the most time-consuming part (and I am ignoring the report writing part). I like to have the ‘more is better’ mind-frame when researching, but that can quickly lead to dozens of open browser tabs or dozens of downloaded PDFs and many more hours spent paring the useful stuff.

Summly aims to help users summarize web information with its FREE iPhone App. I actually think the most intriguing aspect of Summly is the search function as it summarizes a webpage’s information before a user clicks the link to that webpage.

Summly

I can see myself using this tool to quickly digest information and bypass link clicking altogether. However, this makes me beholden to Summly’s patent pending technology to display the most important information. It seems credible enough, but the search screen leaves a lot to be desired (although I appreciate the clean and simple design).

The biggest problem is no date display on the search page or the summary page. Users have no idea how current the information is unless they click the link. This seems to defeat the purpose.

Summly iPhone app screenshot

Another problem is the app does not seem to be able to summarize web content that is already efficient (e.g., 500 characters or less).

That said, Summly is an interesting application that may alleviate my information consumption. Time will tell if Summly becomes a permanent app on my iPhone. I may have to wait until Summly is integrated into more services like Twitter or Yahoo.

[image via English for Advanced Students | photos via PJ]