Entries in 955 Dreams (3)
On the way to Woodstock is the new reference/coffee-table iPad book from 955 Dreams, the developers of the History of Jazz, which became one of our favourites earlier this year.
Much of what we said about the History of Jazz in our review applies to the Woodstock app, it utilises a similar UI, integrating with YouTube and iTunes in the same way.
For those too young to remember this era and/or with a passion for music and its history, it is a fascinating read!
Being such an interactive experience, it is difficult to explain exactly how the app works in words, so we made this video for you. We hope you enjoy it and if you have had a chance to try 'On the way to Woodstock' be sure to let us know what you think of the app.
We let you know how great we thought The History of Jazz iPad app is in our review a few days ago, you should really check it out if you haven't already. We're sure you will want a copy of this $9.99 app when you see the review and the promo video.
Now the, lovely people at 955 Dreams have given you, as a valued iPad Creative reader, a chance to win one of five free copies of the app.
Here's how you can win:
1) Follow us on Twitter (you can, of course, skip this step if you already follow us). You have to be following us so that we can DM you if you win. Plus we post loads of cool stuff on Twitter that we don't cover here on the blog so we promise to try and make it worth your while.
2) Click on this link to be taken to your Twitter page and tweet the message exactly as it appears before 1855 GMT on Friday 18th February 2011 (click this link to see this time in your Time Zone). Mutliple entries will be accepted but please do not spam your followers!
We will randomly select five winners from those who have tweeted the exact message as per Step 2 above. We will let the winners know their promo code via DM as soon as we can after the closing date.
The History of Jazz app is a sumptuous, beautiful and thoroughly engrossing experience that has fired up our innate interest in this rich and sometimes enigmatic musical art form. We tell you why we liked it and what makes it one of the best iPad interactive books we have seen so far.
The History of Jazz developed by 955 Dreams (a three person team made up of two coders and a UI designer) really ups the ante on the iPad 'coffee book' front, but it is so much more than that.
History of Jazz does feel like a quality, heavyweight coffee book in that it has gorgeous visuals and an extraordinary amount of depth to it's content. When you are turning the pages of a book though it is easy to lose the thread and this app has a clever navigation aid to help you here.
Along the bottom of the screen is a piano-keys inspired 'dancing' timeline which enables you to jump around between different Genres and time periods within Jazz's History.
Particular care has been taken with this UI to create a lively and colourful interface that just begs you to interact with it impelling you to explore, and this we did. We found it easy to lose several hours digging deeper in to the multi-layered interface, watching videos we had never seen before about people we had only vague knowledge of and we loved it.
There are some great videos in this app, some real rarities, but this brings us on to an interesting point. All of the videos and most of the text used in this app are sourced from YouTube and Wikipedia respectively. So you could ask "Why am I being charged $9.99 for information I could find myself?".
Well, yes you could probably find a lot of this content yourself but really, would you want to? And how long is that going to take you? We would much rather view this content in a wonderfully curated interactive 'book', with the context of Genre and History integrated carefully and set out for us all in one place.
Unlike a printed book though, revisions and updates will not cost you the total purchase price again, the Developers are keen to add new content in the future. This is one of the key advantages of digital content publishing.
Each musician's profile has a link to more videos, 'Essential Songs' and 'Essential Albums'. Clicking one of these two links pops up a window inside the app with iTunes audio previews for each of the available tracks. From here you can click on the Purchase link and you are taken into the iTunes store, which is useful.
But what we really wanted from this app (and it is something that we are teased about in the app instructions) is the one thing that is missing. We would dearly love to be able to play artist tracks in the background whilst exploring and browsing the app.
There are obvious Copyright issues with this request and it is possibly why this feature is missing, but it would be just perfect to have this functionality and it would enhance the experience so much more.
We would also love to have this background music feature available whilst playing the Slideshow that is built in to the app, which is a very nice feature for when your iPad is idle. We hope the Developers can sort something out so that this feature can be added.
The Price of Development
The History of Jazz is admittedly one of the more pricey iPad apps but how much would that still image, not-at-all-interactive and importantly (given the subject) silent paper book cost you? Probably upwards of three times as much for a hardcover full colour edition.
This app really plays to the iPad's interactive strengths by using audio, video and the touch interface to involve you and aid your exploration so that there is more to discover each time you visit the app.
The level of research coupled with the development of the look and feel of the app is also a major factor in the added value that the book brings. Robert Scoble did an interview with the development team and there are some interesting insights in his half hour-ish video, if you would like to know more about the creative and technical processes behind this app you should definitely watch it.
Although it may be near the top tier for this kind of niche, interactive book app, we think it is a fair price, especially when compared to the cost of a printed book of this stature.
As we said at the outset, this app has really captured our interest and we find ourselves dipping back into the History of Jazz while we are sat with iPad in hand, looking to relax and chill out of an evening. It is the best feeling, interactive book app we have yet seen on our iPads and for its educational value and immersive experience we can highly recommend it, even if you have just a passing interest in the Jazz medium.
History of Jazz is available now, currently at version 1.0.4, for $9.99 (£5.99) in the app store. A demo of most of the screens and features can be seen in the video below.
As always, if you have any comments about the History of Jazz, let us know in the comments.