The popular iPad science app The Incomplete Map of the Cosmic Genome has a boxing day treat for anyone who unwrapped a new Kindle Fire or Kobo yesterday morning – the app is now available for Android, as well as PC, Mac and anything with a web browser – through a new web-based app.
We last featured the iPad version of the app in October, a in round-up of the best apps for science geeks – and it just keeps on giving. In what is a bit like a cross between an encyclopaedia, a magazine and a TV show, the app features extended video interviews with the great and the good of science world like Professors Brian Cox and Richard Dawkins – as well as other famous names who are science enthusiasts, like comedians Stewart Lee and Dave Gorman.
Every month the app gets new updates – and the latest has added astronaut Commander Chris Hadfield, made famous by his incredible Space Oddity video, and his regular tweets from the International Space Station.
Previously the app had only been available for iPad, but this latest update is a browser-based version. So whilst not listed in the Android app store, Android users who head over to the Cosmic Genome website can sign up and watch the videos in their browser – as can users of PCs, Macs… even Windows Phone!
From a technological point of view it’s interesting too. Cosmic Genome are the latest in a trend of premium apps like the Financial Times going web-based rather than the app store route. From the content-provider’s point of view it makes a lot of sense too – rather than have to build a separate, expensive app for each platform, they can build a single browser-based experience. This also frees them of draconian restrictions imposed by the Apple app store and Google Play (Apple insist on taking a sizeable slice of any in-app purchases, for instance) and with the power of HTML5, browser experiences can do most of the things native apps can.
So will other apps follow? Are the Cosmic Genome blazing a trail? It’ll be interesting to see.
Now if you’ll forgive me, I’m going to spend the rest of my boxing day catching up with Commander Hadfield.
By James O'Malley | December 26th, 2013