I spent 4 years gaining two degrees studying history at university. After all this studying you could fit my knowledge of the Romans on the back of a postage stamp. I can bore anyone to death with tedious insight into Cold War politics, and Richard Nixon, but next to nothing about the Romans. Anyway, as a I sit in my centrally heated house, munching an apple with my cat sleeping on the sofa, I wonder; what did the Romans ever do for us? Thankfully, Roman Ruins HD can go some way to addressing my Roman ignorance.
It must be said first off that the app is very slick. Whoever is behind it clearly has an eye for design. The menus animate very fluidly and are complimented by a ’tile’ system, reminiscent of the Windows Metro interface. The app is effectively a large database of Roman ruins (surprise suprise), and the menu system is the portal to filter the content into different areas which might prove useful.
Once you have selected a particular ruin, you are presented with a nice (although not HD) picture of the ruin and then some key information about it. The information won’t win any scholarly awards, nor is it trying to, but for someone like me with little knowledge of the Romans, it’s straight to the point and easy to digest. From here you can then get interactive and the app utilises Google Streetview to give you a tour around the ruin. Google Streetview is an outstanding tool and the app also brings in Google’s use of the iPad gyro to give you an immersive tour around the ruin. This is great for those of us who are predetermined towards the kinaesthetic way of learning, and it is very good for visualising what the ruin would look like in three dimensions.
As well as using Google Streetview, the app also uses Google Maps, in particular satellite view and in some cases 3D view. It’s not ‘real 3D’, as in 3D models that you can manipulate, rather it’s Google’s 45 degree satellite imagery. You can also go ‘off piste’ with the street view here and drag Google’s little orange Streetview peg man anywhere on the map.
To further integrate Google’s software, standard Google Maps is featured, showing where each of the ruins featured in the app is located. This is quite a nice feature for those of us with Roman ruins in our country as it is easy to see the nearest major ruin, and you can visit virtually before you physically visit. To take advantage of all of this interactivity, you do need to be connected to the internet with a reasonable broadband connection. I’m on 9 meg and the app handled Streetview with no slowdown. If you’re offline, you are presented with a white screen with not much going on.
In conclusion, you can find the interactive features of this app on normal Google Streetview. You can also find the information about each ruin fairly easily on the web. Where this app excels however, is that all of the comprehensive interactivity, 1500 pictures and information is in one easy to navigate package. If you have an interest in the Romans and their history, or if you are planning a holiday to a country with Roman ruins, this app certainly hits the mark.
Here’s an App Store link for Roman Ruins HD; it’s priced at $9.99 and is for iPad only.
Disclosure: the app developers provided a promo code for this app.