Developer: Amber Books Ltd
App Reviewed on: iPod Touch 4g
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For those of us who really need to know what the coracoid process is (it’s a bone in your shoulder), we now have The Human Body, an interactive anatomical viewer. Billed as an app developed in full consultation with a professor of medical anatomy and featuring specially commissioned illustrations, The Human Body allows you to browse through the different major sections of the body, drilling down to read textual descriptions focused on a particular organ's structure or function. Each entry, which reads like its from an encyclopedia, is accompanied by a single (occasionally two) high-definition medical illustration of the part or structure in question.
The Human Body offers a nice bookmarking and notetaking feature, allowing the user to make free-text notes on any section of the app and then see all notes collected in one place, accessible from the main screen. Whether the information here is medically complete I cannot say, but I do know that even though the interface is visually beautiful it is missing some key affordances that could make the app much more polished and usable. For example it’s not immediately obvious that if you tap on the small thumbnail that appears at the beginning of each section, you will be shown full-size version complete with marker pins, highlighting important anatomical landmarks. The large-size image is truly huge and offers no ability to pinch it smaller; while this will not be a problem on a iPad, on my iPod it’s annoying to have to pan around to see everything.
The way the different sections are ordered feels a little disorganized; the Pelvis appears after the Lower Limbs and before the Upper Limbs, for example. Likewise, subsequent levels of classification seem arbitrary, with the Development of the Teeth at the same categorical level as the Eyeball. In future releases, I would like to see a better organized hierarchy of body parts, to make browsing and searching easier.
The Human Body is a great reference for the layperson, or a youngster who is learning basic anatomy. It has plenty of big, scientific words that will make an interested individual feel like they’re getting smarter. Integration with a medical dictionary would be a nice enhancement.
Word of warning: even with all the beautiful illustrations, this app is too light on details for a serious medical student, but it’s price point puts it within reach of someone who just needs an occasional anatomic reference.