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]

Explore History: Sacramento Archives Crawl On October 1

University Archives

In celebration of National Archives Month, the City of Sacramento is hosting its first ever “Explore History: Sacramento Archives Crawl” on 1 October 2011 (11AM-4PM). Archives and Special Collections libraries from around the Sacramento region will share rare items, such as historic photographs and artifacts, from their collections.

This FREE event; sponsored by the Sacramento History Foundation, California State Library Foundation, Gordon-Goldstein Foundation, and Hoppy Brewing Company; will take place at four Downtown Sacramento locations:

Visit at least three of the locations for a pretty cool prize.

Looking south over Sacramento River with I and M Street Bridges in view, Southern Pacific Rail yards in foreground, Sacramento, CA, ca. 1930

Among the participating institutions include:

-California Department Of Transportation
-California State Parks Archives
-California State Railroad Museum Library
-El Dorado County Historical Museum
-Little People Of America Archive
-National Archives At San Francisco
-Placer County Museums Archives & Research Center
-Sacramento Historic City Cemetery Archives
-Society Of California Archivists
-Temple/Congregation B’nai Israel Archives
-Yolo County Archives

This event represents a unique opportunity to view rarely displayed historical items. Please click here for exhibit locations.

[photos via University Libraries, University of Maryland | leiris202]