World War I Interactive (2012) is part of Touchzing Media‘s interactive history app series (other entries cover the American Revolution, the Civil War, WWII, the Vietnam War, general American history, and the lives of Abraham Lincoln and Mahatma Gandhi). Since my own WWI knowledge comes largely from Downton Abbey and Legends of the Fall, I took the opportunity to learn some actual history of the era from this app. (That said, since the text is “adapted from Wikipedia,” you may want to double-check information with other sources.)
The app is divided into seven chronological chapters: “Pre 1914: Causes of the War,” “1914: the War Begins,” “1915: Sinking into War,” “1916: Inside the Trenches,” “1917: Entry of United States,” “1918: Victory for Allies,” and “Post 1918: Post War World.” Each chapter is further divided into subsections — primarily significant battles — which are introduced with a brief overview and browsable either by a thumbnail menu or by a timeline. Tapping the names of important people, places, battles, or tactics in the text brings up more detailed information; e.g., tap the names of historical figures to get a brief biographical sketch and a photo. Sidebars accompanying the main text provide the highlights of each battle: dates, locations, forces involved, and ultimate result.
The serviceable text would have benefited from sources (and another round of proofreading); the app’s greatest strength is its multimedia aspect. Striking archival photos, paintings and political cartoons, maps, and even video clips are integrated throughout. Users can also directly access themed galleries (“Leaders,” “Soldiers,” “Artillery,” “Memorials,” etc.) of the 1200+ photos, forty videos, and five audio clips of speeches and music from a pull-down menu at the top of each screen. All images are clearly captioned and many are enlargeable. Tap on an “info” icon below each image to get its source. Straightforward navigation — including an index browsable by dates, events, or historical figures — and clean design allow the multimedia to take center stage.
This thorough app may prove a bit too much for the casual user, but students and history buffs will appreciate its detailed look at a brutal turning point in world history.
Available for iPad (requires iOS 4.3 or later); $4.99. Recommended for middle school users and up.