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Apps for Learning - History

Making history interactive is a time-honoured tradition (see what I did there) which has continued to develop as mobile and app technology has. Once you hit adulthood it's hard to find any practical reason why anyone would need to increase their historical knowledge, but as a matter of personal interest? Come on, how could you not. It would definitely make it easier to blow people's minds in a political conversation, see them gape when you cross compare the current economic climate with the French feudal revolution, or present your case for the similarities between Bill Clinton and Caracalla.

Whatever you end up using it for, there are plenty of apps which allow you to absorb all this information on the go. Beyond that though, inventive developers have found numerous ways of detailing millions of hours' worth of history in engaging, absorbing ways. Here are 5 of the best ones.

Apple Store

This app takes you on a virtual tour of Ancient Rome, from the Colosseum to the bath houses, detailing almost every aspect of Roman history. You can tour certain parts of the city through a 'bubble view' function that essentially behaves like Google street-view (or a virtual tour), allowing you to tilt your phone/pad to look around. You can also make use of visual overlays to show how the city changed over time. Remember those educational books which had clear acetate pages you could use to change pictures? Basically that, but cooler. The app also allows you to use the touch screen to manipulate artefacts, the level of depth it offers is meticulous, it profiles just about everything. Ideal waiting room material.  

Apple Store
A basic, but effective little app, this one does exactly what it says on the tin. Once loaded, it gives you a comprehensive list of every noteworthy historical event that happened on that particular day. It's completely global and includes birthdays, holidays and other general info, just to shake things up. The actual app only offers the most basic information about each particular event, but it also links you out to the appropriate Wikipedia pages and keeps related items grouped, allowing you to look for other, relevant information. You can look at any day at any time and it has a good search function as well. 

Apple Store
This is honestly one of the coolest, slickest apps I've ever encountered. Part of a wider 'Timeline' series covering WW1, WW2, the Civil War and much more, this one keeps focus on European and Middle Eastern castles. It features an interactive timeline stretching from 1000 to 1500 AD, presented by historical TV mainstay Dan Snow. It boasts over 100 films detailing just about every aspect of siege warfare and weaponry. You can learn how to build and properly fire a longbow for example. Just, y'know, be careful. As well as that, there are also some incredible images and interactive 3D maps of some of the most beautiful, amazing castles ever built, complete with archive material and much more.

Apple Store
I couldn't write an article about history without paying at least some heed to ancient Egypt. There are plenty of apps out there which compile historical information and images but only one that actually allows you to explore the insides of the pyramids. Beyond just Giza, you can also explore the area around the Sphinx and other sites and tombs. The images are built from mapping data, aerial photography and on-site photography and the result is startlingly realistic, best used on a tablet for obvious reasons. You can also examine different objects, historical and mythical information and narrated introductions from noted Egyptologist Bram Calcoen. 

Apple Store
Specific histories are all well and good, but what about an app that encompasses literally everything. Zooming timeline apps are, I think we can all agree, awesome. This one provides that function and takes it to the next level though. As you sift through Earth's history via a stunning interactive interface. Travel to any point in history and you're practically guaranteed to learn something new. The imagery, whether it be drawn, animated, video or photographic, is all gorgeous and so well organised that you can find exactly what you're looking for in seconds. Honestly though it's much more fun just to potter around at random, and when pottering around at random ends up being highly educational, you're onto a winner.

Callum Davies

Callum is a film school graduate who is now making a name for himself as a journalist and content writer. His vices include flat whites and 90s hip-hop. Follow him @CallumAtSMF

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Apps for Learning - History Reviewed by Unknown on Thursday, July 23, 2015 Rating: 5

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