Stories and thoughts about family and life

There’s an app for that. . .

on June 19, 2012

It never ceases to amaze me the things that people dream up for apps.  I’ve got stuff on my phone that tracks the kids allowance, allows me to edit photos, provides additional keyboards for texting, allows me to book hotel reservations (I actually have several of those), a QR scanner (which Brennan things is the most awesome thing since sliced bread), coupon apps, check-in and point collecting apps,  the lottery, and games.  Lots and lots and lots of games.    It’s funny to see the things that are available, and the accomplishments they’ve made with this technology.

There are compass apps, reading apps, walkie-talkie apps, connection apps like Facebook or Linkedin, and apps to help you find things (my personal favorite is POYNT).   I especially appreciate  the free apps.  I love it when I can try an app out for free, and there are lots of apps I use for a while and then end up deleting.   I’ve discovered a couple of really cool ones lately.  The first one is called “Current Elevation” which, quite literally, tells you the current elevation of the phone.  That sounds like not such a big deal, but driving through the Big Horn National Forest, and climbing  and climbing in the mountains.  At one point we gained nearly 2,000 feet in the space of about 15 minutes, winding up and back on a highway.  It was fascinating to be able to see the altitude and know where we were in the scheme of things.

The most amazing thing I’ve discovered lately is called SkyView.  At a Boy Scout outing the other night, we attended a “star party” put on by our local Astronomy club.  It was fascinating looking through the telescopes and seeing all the things they pointed out.  More fascinating for me, however, was the introduction to this amazing (and FREE!) app.  You hold it over various points in the night sky (or even during the day, as we later discovered), and you can see where certain celestial bodies are at any point.  You can also see man-made objects such as the Hubble telescope or the International Space Station.  It will track the course of objects such as the moon and sun and tell you when they’ll be in your viewpoint again.  It’s truly magnificent.  For someone like me, who had never been able to locate the dippers, or see how people can make out two people in the Gemini star sign, this app is a lifesaver, and it’s truly a unique perspective on the heavens.  You can “click” on the item once it locates it, and receive information about that particular body.  You will also see a shadowed outline, so that you can see how the stars “fit” into the picture.   I’ve developed a new appreciation for astronomy.  Even funnier, probably, was the mass of us, all with our iphones pointed up to the sky, marveling at the various objects we were seeing thanks to this handy little app.  For the kids, it helped them find the things they were hoping to see, so they could ask the astronomers to re-direct their telescopes.  Talk about enhancing the experience!  There is a paid version of this too, and I can only imagine what it must do, since the free version is so remarkable.

So, just when you think you’ve seen everything there is to see with your iphone, a new perspective on something very, very old is presented.  Technology never ceases to amaze me.  I wonder what they’ll come up with next!


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