Developer: Ballista Media
App Reviewed on: iPad 2
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Veteran broadcaster and son of a World War II vet, Robert McNeil leads history buffs and students on a interactive journey that takes us from Britain, France, India and New Zealand’s declaration of war on Hitler’s Germany in 1939 to the Japanese surrender aboard the USS Missouri in 1945 using a simple, intuitive and remarkably compressive timeline. The information in Timeline World War 2 with Robert MacNeil is presented beautifully, and the information is delivered with clarity and context, making it well worth $13.99 for anyone who wants to study or revisit the subject.
MacNeil greets users at launch with a brief introduction and tutorial; he also does a lot of the voice-overs. After the video users have two options. They can enter the timeline, or view interactive maps.
The timeline is made up of index cards and a neat little scroll bar at the top. Each card covers a single event or figure from the war, and a tap reveals more detailed information.
Cards with paper clips have additional media and most link to the map so users can see where the legendary and not-so-legendary action took place. There are also photographs, like “The Big Three” at the Yalta Conference in 1945 that are iconic and need little more than a caption.
My favorite touch is the inclusion of video clips, which are largely undoctored newsreels as they were seen by real people in the Allied nations during the war. Another useful feature is that the cards can be filtered to display only photos, videos, or to isolate key battles, key events, and key figures. This makes navigating the sprawling timeline more manageable and tailors the content to individual interests.
The Maps section is also extremely well done. Using the same timeline concept and navigation bar, users can watch the colors changes as territory moved from back and forth in both the European and Pacific theatres.
Of note, the developers have chosen to highlight the former Soviet Union not in Allied blue or Axis green, but rather in alarming red. And, throughout the timeline there are hints that the tenuous alliance between Churchill, FDR and Stalin foreshadowed an new type of war, with consequences no less dire, if harder to measure.
The only technical issue with the app is occasional crashing. As for features, the social network junkie in me wishes I could share at least some of the information, photo and videos on sites like Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.
Timeline World War 2 with Robert MacNeil is like owning a private, comprehensive WWII museum where the docent and permanent collection are beyond compare. History buffs and students should grab it with no hesitation.