Developer: Banzai Labs

Price: $1.99
Version Reviewed: 1.3
Device Reviewed On: iPhone 3GS

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

Overall Rating: ★★★☆☆

The full name of this app — Ocean Encounters: A Photographic Exploration of Marine Wildlife — is not only a mouthful, it’s also a fairly apt description of the app’s entire purpose. Ocean Encounters allows users to explore various parts of the ocean through photos by the award-winning wildlife photographer and author Brandon Cole.

The photos are beautiful and the shots are all worth seeing. Each shot is labeled with a description of the scene or the species in the image, and each one includes a longer description in which Brandon Cole shares something interesting or insightful about that particular photo. The photos are separated into sets of 10 images by location, and these sets can be navigated via random thumbnails on the app’s home screen or by a map which shows the locations where all the app’s photos were taken. While perusing the marine photos in Ocean Encounters, users can choose to listen to the app’s ocean waves soundtrack or their own playlist of music from their iTunes library.

The photos are this app’s main attraction and they are terrific, but there are some missing features that one would expect to find in any photo app. Most markedly missing is the ability to pinch and zoom the photos. While this may not be an issue when viewing the app on an iPad, on smaller devices it would be nice to be able to zoom the images in order to see the details better. Rotating the device from time to time so that the images fit better alleviates the lack of zoom to a point. One option that is included is the option to share the photos. Users can save the photos to their photo library where they can email, tweet, and post them wherever the want or they can post them to their Facebook wall directly from the app.

While the photography in this app and the added descriptions from Brandon Cole are great content, it would certainly be possible to find similar content easily enough through a quick internet search. The only difference is that the app has no need for an internet connection, so once the app is downloaded the content can be viewed anytime, anywhere without using a data connection. Still, it is fitting that this app is categorized in the Books section of the apps store because it really only amounts to a picture book about the ocean; which may be just what fans of Brandon Cole’s work and marine wildlife want.

Posted in: Books, iPhone Apps and Games, Reviews

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