Developer: Harper Collins
Price: $5.99
Version Reviewed: 1.20
Device Reviewed On: iPhone 5

iPhone Integration Rating: ★★★★½
User Interface Rating: ★★★★½
Re-use Value Rating: ★★★★½

Overall Rating: ★★★★½

Professor Brian Cox is an accomplished and well-known scientist and astronomer who is also the host of a show on the BBC in the United Kingdom. He has recently launched a universal (no pun intended – ed.) iOS app that is a prime example of the interactivity and great visuals that can be offered in an app and not in traditional books or magazines. This app is at the intersection of great visuals, plenty of high quality and informative content, and a great user interface.

The main screen is a vivid 3D map of the universe. Users can pinch and zoom to look at a certain part of the universe or just tap on an object or planet to automatically zoom in. Tapping after already zoomed in will bring up the corresponding information section on the bottom of the screen.

Users can control the scale at which they are looking at the top of the screen. The scale can be as small as sub-atomic, which will show the sub-atomic particles that contributed to the big bang, or atomic, which will detail the many interesting facts about the atoms that comprise the majority of the universe. The larger scale options range from our solar system, to the Milky Way galaxy, all the way up to the universe. Navigation is really simple and easy. Intuitive swiping and tapping is pretty much all there is to it.

The bottom of the screen has a row of information blocks that when tapped bring up information and lessons about particular subjects. The lessons have a central theme and are grouped together. Most lessons have a professionally shot and produced videos, great photos and pictures, and a lot of text explanations. For instance, in the sub atomic scale, some of the different informational lessons are an explanation of quarks, the origin of life, the forces behind the sun, information about protons, neutrons and electrons.

The amount of content in the app is incredible. Selecting just about any object, planet, moon, or information block at the bottom of the screen will play some type of neat and visually appealing animation cut scene that causes the view to zoom around. The videos are narrated by Brian Cox and are from his BBC show, Wonders of the Solar System, so the production value is very high. The photos are also top-notch.

I would hesitate to call this an eBook since it is so much more interactive and contains so many more types of media than any eBook I’ve ever encountered. Anyone who is interested in the universe, solar systems, galaxies, or even how things are made at the microscopic level will love this app. It’s a little pricey for an iPhone or iPad app, but it’s totally worth the money.

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