13.7 billion years ago, the universe was born. This is where the iPhone and iPad App “Back in Time” begins, which leads from the emergence of the galaxy and first life on Earth to the time of dinosaurs. It ultimately arrives at the year 2000, describing the human genome. That’s a lot to tell. The question is – can 13.7 billion years of history be packed into one app, or is such a feat too ambitioned after all?
“Back In Time” comprises the entire history from the genesis of the universe to the year 2000 into a single day – 24 hours, in which the history of humankind takes up only one single minute! The learning app addresses the key data of history.
The app’s entire concept relies on an illustration of time. This becomes apparent in the menu, a specifically built-in timeline and the huge pocket watch, with which you can turn back time 13.7 billion years. Some of these are purely gimmicks (like the big pocket watch), but they make learning a lot more fun.
The menus are clearly laid out. Especially the main menu was animated with loving attention to detail. Elements are moved by wiping across the screen, similar to the Cover Flow in iTunes. At the end of the bar they disappear into a black hole – a nice touch. Subjects are succinctly named by a heading, accompanied by the date.
In general, all animations were designed elaborately, illustrating the subjects vividly and making the conveyance of knowledge much easier. The interaction of animation, images and text works excellently. This makes learning easy and very exciting – a large plus of the app. The use of multimedia technology in “Back in Time” enormously enriches the learning experience.
Subjects are divided into several parts. In the sidebar, you can choose the learning text, different anecdotes or the timeline. The left hand side contains videos and images visualising the subject matter. Fortunately, animations can be turned off by clicking the button at the bottom of the bar, since they are quite distracting when reading.
Naturally, a large part of the app is text. This can easily be read even on an iPhone. “Back In Time” is definitely more impressive on an iPad, but on an iPhone it cuts quite a figure, too. However, the app must be bought separately for each device. Also, the text is presented entirely in English. Those who don’t feel confident enough for this should miss out on this app. There are many technical terms which might add to the confusion.
The classical sounding music is repeated throughout the reading and rarely disturbs. Sometimes it suddenly restarts, which can be a bit confusing.
The gesture control usually works flawlessly. Problems only occasionally occur when wiping. The app is partly unable to determine whether the reader wants to turn the page or whether he wants to go to the next subject.
“Back In Time” proves that learning can enormously profit from multimedia technology. Subjects which normally are a bit bland are presented interestingly and fascinatingly. This shows that the interaction of images, videos and knowledge are a good combination. If you are able to read English well and want to have a history of the universe in your smartphone or tablet, you’re well advised to get “Back In Time”.
We’re proud of having taken part in the creation of this app. Several videos used have been researched by us especially. A really successful result!