October 27th, 2011
Inside Nature’s Giants iPad app
Review by Miranda West, Kids Editor
Production credits: Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Ltd. Developer: Isotoma Ltd
Launch date: 29th September 2011
Ever wanted to know what was inside a camel’s iconic hump (clue: it’s not natural spring water); had the urge to stick your head in the mouth of a great white shark, or wanted to look a Burmese python in the eye?
The Inside Nature’s Giants app from HarperCollins gets up close and personal with some of the largest, most impressive animals on the planet. From elephants to giant squids, polar bears to crocodiles, this is an app that takes you right inside the belly of the beast – literally.
Produced to accompany the Channel 4 series and TV tie-in book of the same name, this is a hi-tech app. It’s slick, contemporary, and cutting edge. It’s the app equivalent of Steve Backshall’s Deadly 360 where CBBC’s all-action-presenter stands in a state-of-the-art mission control, swiping and grabbing screens to give the viewer the latest facts and stats on his deadliest finds.
On opening the app, users spin a carousel to select a 3D model of their animal of choice. Swipe down to reveal its skeletal form, swipe up to re-clothe in skin and fur. Spin it round to see all angles and press hot spots to get information on specific parts. Below are info-graphics including weight, top speed, life span and scale.
So yes, it’s fairly geeky, but it’s also educational, interactive, fascinating and – most importantly for kids into natural history – gloriously gruesome.
It’s the photographs and videos that are not for the faint-hearted and put this in an older kids category. Many take you straight into a no-holds-barred dissection – perhaps not surprising when you discover this was made in association with the Royal Veterinary College. The scalpel-wielding scientists go about their business in a matter of fact manner to answer such anatomical questions as: why does a giant squid have three hearts and pass food through it’s brain? Why indeed. Just don’t watch this with your Nan after the Sunday roast.
The Inside Nature’s Giants app is another example of great collaboration. HarperCollins Digital team up with developers Isotoma – experts in 3D models for the iPad, and Windfall Films who produced the CGI and video for the TV series. Combined, these elements create a state-of-the-art interactive app. At times there could have been more depth (it would be interesting to see how the print book compares on that front) and longer-length videos but overall Inside Nature’s Giants is full of unusual footage, sophisticated graphics, and some mind-blowing facts and information.