Developer: The Times
Price: $0.99
Version: 1.0

Design Rating: ★★★★☆
Features Rating: ★★★★★
Integration Rating: ★★★★★

Overall Rating: ★★★★½

Last month, I highlighted the impressive, unexpectedly high download figures of magazine applications from published Condé Nast – 3.8 million to be precise. Since then, The Times have joined the wagon with Eureka, a digital version of the The Times’ monthly science magazine that uses the power of the iPad to present information in an interactive, enjoyable way.

Eureka embraces interactivity right from the get-go. Just like swiping to unlock, the application requires that you swipe to enter, after which you are greeted with a navigation and content video revealing the true extent of the information that Eureka holds. In this edition, How Science Is Changing The Human Race, there are five main categories, each with a plethora of subsets containing information that’ll amaze you as much as the application itself. Each category, subcategory and page hosts its own unique design and interactive integration, from audio and video to landscape mode and swiping. For the purposes of this review, I’ll focus on one category – Engineering.

Tapping the Engineering molecule once opens an introductory page, where six main headings are listed as well as an audio recording of Matthew Syed’s engineering comments. Heading one, an archive slideshow, is required to be viewed in landscape mode, with a graphic alerting users when this is the case. One rotation later a full Big Picture-style collection of images is presented, presented not only in high quality but with a morsel of information regarding each picture. Heading three is more magazine based content, where focus is placed equally on images and text. Again, the interface is very elegantly designed the only underlying trait between each section between Eureka’s trademark two blue parallel lines that give pages colour and separate images. In addition, pre-downloaded audio is accessible in a single tap.

Moving on, heading four reveals Formula One’s knock-on effect on car safety, allowing readers to take apart an F1 car and understand the complex steering wheels that go with each vehicle, all through tapping different parts of the screen. It’s such a beautiful, seamless interface. The designers haven’t thought outside the box, they’ve changed what the box should be: everything feels right.

Suffice it to say, I’m impressed with Eureka, even though there are one or two problems. The constant changing between landscape and portrait mode – and lack of ability to view content in both (only one or the other) – does mean that you are constantly moving the iPad about in your hands, which doesn’t make the user experience as enjoyable as it should be. In addition, the initial download is painfully large and the application looms over most others when it comes to installed size: over 500MB, because of pre-downloaded audio and video. Options to stream these, or download category by category, would be much preferred.

Nonetheless, Eureka pushes the boundary forward when it comes to magazine applications. It makes the iPad feel special and unique in a technological world where competition is fierce. And for that, Eureka deserves every bit of its 4.5 stars.

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