Review: LIFE for iPad

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LIFE for iPad

LIFE for iPad is an app that brings the famously superb photography of Life Magazine to your iPad. Here’s a little slice of its App Store Intro:

LIFE on iPad is a spectacular experience: LIFE’s legendary photo collection at a never-before-seen resolution. Download the free app to explore LIFE’s vast archives, up-to-the-minute news photos, and special features not available anywhere else.

I’ve had the app for around a week now and spent a lot of time with it, both on my own and with my daughter. The short story here is that this is an excellent and beautiful app. For a few more thoughts on it, and lots more of its stellar content, hit the break …


Here are some of the app’s key features:

– View high definition (HD) photo galleries featuring this enormous collection of professional, endless fascinating, and historically significant photography.
-Immerse yourself in the map-based LIFE Explorer view that allows you to find photos based on where they were taken.
-"Email", "Facebook", and "Twitter" buttons allow you to easily send LIFE photos to friends or post them to your favorite social networks.
– Take millions of high-resolution photos with you everywhere you go.
– Travel through this app by swiping side-to-side or using the interactive filmstrip mode.


This is a photography book for the iPad, featuring some of the best photography done by any news magazine, ever. The main sections of it are: Explorer, Editor’s Picks, Most Popular, News, Celebrity, Sports, Travel, and Animals.

The Explorer section is a view of the world with pushpins to indicate photographs at a myriad of locations round the globe.

LIFE for iPad app

So you can decide that you’d just like to look at photos from Russia, for example, like this powerful one below of a lonely firefighter right in the thick of a terrible forest fire earlier this year.

LIFE iPad app

Or spot a single, sad photo from the island of Samoa …

LIFE for iPad app

You can also hit the ‘Browse Locations’ button and see an alphabetical listing of places and pick one you fancy.

In all of the other sections apart from the Explorer, you will find a large number of photo sets. To say these cover a broad range is a huge understatement. They span decades and cover a tremendously wide array of topics. Just as one quick example, in the Sports section you’ll get sets that cover everything from great catches in the NFL to cheerleaders, a tribute to the tennis skirt, to the ugliest baseball uniforms ever.

LIFE iPad app

LIFE iPad app

LIFE for iPad app

The News section offers photos that have captured world-changing events for many, many years, and right up to the present day. In fact, all the sections feature lots of current photos.


LIFE for iPad app

Each picture has a title and also shows that is number X in a set of Y (e.g 4 of 28). With a single tap on a subtle Caption button at the bottom left of each photo you toggle captions on and off.

Once you’ve chosen a photo set to enjoy, you can simply swipe left and right to move through it, or tap on the filmstrip button at bottom right to see an easy slider showing small thumbnails to navigate with.

At the end of each photo set you’re presented with a You Might Also Like listing of related sets, a very cool little feature.

As you’d expect if you’re at all familiar with LIFE, the photos are consistently excellent and often stunning. Just the Animals section alone would make this a major wow factor app for many people, myself and my daughter included.

LIFE for iPad app

LIFE for iPad app

Even just choosing images to use in this post – and as you can see I hardly scrimped on them – was enormously difficult as there are just so many wonderful ones to choose from.


Just one thing to mention in this area. The ads in the app are horrendous. They are full screen, there are often two of them within a single photo set, and worst of all it is very awkward and hit-and-miss to swipe through them. So quite often when you try to swipe past one to continue through the photos, instead you launch a popup ad page.

Fair enough, the app is free – but I would be delighted to pay for the app in order to ditch the very irritating ads, just as I happily paid up my $4.99 for their excellent LIFE Wonders of the World iPad book.

One little oddity to mention here as well, a rare error in an app of this quality. When I tapped on Georgia – as in the former Soviet republic near the Ukraine – I got photos that related to The Masters golf championship in a very different Georgia.


LIFE for iPad is a superb app. It’s every bit as spectacular as its App Store page touts it as.

This feels like a coffee table book for the iPad done right, and it’s an app you can (and will want to) spend hours and hours with. It has already provided hours of enjoyment for my daughter and I and we’ve barely scratched the surface of it.

Go get it!, as my friend Brandon would say.

You can find LIFE for iPad in the App Store now, and it a free (ad supported) app.

Patrick Jordan

Founder and Editor in Chief of iPad Insight. Husband, father to a lovely daughter, Commander of the Armies of the North, dog lover (especially Labs), Austinite, former Londoner, IT consultant, huge sports nut, iPad and mobile tech blogger, mobile apps junkie.

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5 thoughts on “Review: LIFE for iPad”

  1. I have been enjoying LIFE explorer and Today’s top photos for iPad but recently
    the pushpins were disappeared from the map and never stops loading…for top photos.
    What should I do for solution? Please let me know.

  2. Not only have the pushpins dissappeared, but the original Pro upgrade has been removed and the search facility is no longer functioning. Unfortunately your review is no longer a true reflection of the app.

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