App Review: BBC Earth Wonders

Alex Walls
March 5, 2013

BBC Earth Wonders

BBC Worldwide Ltd

£2.49 on Apple iOS

3star 100px


This BBC educational app about the wonders of the natural world features clips from series such as Planet Earth and Life, as well as images and facts.

Navigation has a variety of options – you can use a 3D globe to select points of interest, go by themes such as ‘Killer Wonders’ or ‘Bizarre Wonders’, try alphabetically, continentally or elementally; whatever’s your poison.  These will lead you to fact boxes about a given animal, area or natural phenomenon, such as cannibal chimpanzees or ant-zomibifying fungus (oh yeah, it’s a thing).

There are 50 in total, all fascinating, well laid out and simply written, with three beautiful photos each with more than 500 in total in the app, (beautiful in the sense of quality, sometimes not content, given one shows chimpanzees eating another chimpanzee…) and there is a link to an approximately 30 second, HD video clip, edited to include only natural sounds.

BBC Wonders_3

However these videos must be downloaded separately, by theme, in large bundles; most are around 70MB.  While this most likely brings the download size of the actual app down, it can be a bit of a pain when reading something interesting to then wait for the download of the video; it breaks the flow of learning and as we all know, learning is fun!

The ‘Explore the Globe’ feature works really well and is a fun way to browse the different sections but originally the app can be a little counter-intuitive in that, there’s so much to see and you’re not quite sure whether there’s a given path to follow or not.

The app is also £2.49 which is quite a bit for an app you could essentially get through in a day; hopefully updates will come out with more fascinating facts, but as it is, I’m not sure I’d fork out that much for it.

Also, the app seems to burn through battery, using 3% in approximately 10 minutes on an iPad in two test runs. The iPhone version seemed to handle the app better in terms of energy use.

A nice feature to keep you using the app is the ‘Picture of the Day’ which changes, you guessed it, every day and includes fun facts about the content.

All in all, a difficult app to rate – it’s fascinating and beautiful but expensive and battery chewing.

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