Chris Hadfield has put a lot of music on International Space Station (ISS) already, directly from his iPad ─ thousands of songs.
In seeing the teleprompter photo, however, I also wondered: how did Hadfield lock the iPad in landscape mode in absence of gravity? The iPad has an accelerometer, and my limited science knowledge told me that gravity is a factor to consider when developing devices with embedded accelerometers on Earth. Did he lock his iPad in landscape mode before leaving Earth?
I’m no expert of astronomy or space missions, but I enjoy reading about the subject because I’m completely fascinated by it. I don’t subscribe to dedicated blogs about space news, because I don’t really follow the scene actively — I’m casually interested in reading what’s new when I have the time. For the past two years I’ve been using Spaced to keep up with the most important space news and discoveries; the team behind the app released today a major 3.0 update that adds a completely redesigned UI, iCloud support, and more sections.
Spaced aggregates news from well-established publications and sources and it is perfectly suited for people like me: folks who are curious to know about space but who don’t have the time to read every news item from blogs and magazines they are not even following. The new Spaced comes with a gorgeous black UI that gives even more depth and contrast to the beautiful imagery of NASA including Astronomy Photo of the Day and Image of the Day. In a sidebar on the left, you can now access a Home page featuring a collection of news, missions, NEO data, and photos, or you can browse individual sections to see more photos, videos, and live TV from NASA (including a programming schedule). You can tap on the Missions tab to learn more about single missions like the Webb Telescope and Mars Science Laboratory, or you can just head over Videos, tap Play and watch.
The big new feature of this 3.0 version is iCloud sync: in the Saved view, you access photos, articles, and videos you’ve saved from your iPad or iPhone. iCloud integration has been working reliably for me both on WiFi and 3G. You can also activate push notifications in the Settings for articles and other items, but I decided to keep them off as I prefer opening the app when I have time to read.
I recommend Spaced 3.0 to anyone who’s interested in space news but doesn’t have the time or patience to keep up with blogs, NASA webpages, and magazines. The app is only $0.99 on the App Store.
In what might be the coolest music experiment that has landed on the iPad to date, company Bloom Studio released earlier today Planetary, a new way to explore your iPad’s music library. Bloom Studio promises to deliver “playful, explorable, visually compelling views on personally relevant information from services like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and iTunes”, and Planetary is the realization of this mission statement: not only it’s based on the crazy concept of turning your iPad music library into a galaxy, it also works exceptionally well. Since I got my eyes on the teaser website a few days ago, I was looking forward to trying the actual product and see whether it could really bring a different way of exploring music to the tablet: now that I’m using the app, available for free, I have to say Planetary is one of those apps you have to try for yourself, rather than watching in some YouTube demo videos.
So here’s the gist: your music is a galaxy, artists are stars, albums are planets. In the 3D view of Planetary, no two planets are the same as the graphics are generated automatically off an album cover from the iPod app. Similarly, songs are moons: the more you listen to a song, the bigger the moon grows. And there’s more: each moon orbits at a speed related to the song’s length. Indeed, crazy stuff that doesn’t really make any sense until you try it. But on the other hand, it’s clear Bloom Studio set out to create an interesting experiment based on data visualization that merges files synced to your iPad, music, and space. I’m sure Buzz Aldrin would be proud.
While Planetary features some standard music controls like play / pause and back / forward, the key area of the app is support for multitouch gestures: you can pinch the galaxy to zoom on a star, pan and rotate a planet to check out all moons and orbits — overall, do all sorts of zooming and viewing to enjoy the pleasure of having your music available in the form of a galaxy. Like I said above, you just have to try it and see how it works with your music.
At the price of free, Planetary needs to be downloaded now and experienced with a rich iPod library synced to your iPad. Personal recommendation: for greater results, try to sync some Explosions In The Sky.
We’re huge fans of Vito Technologies’ Star Walk products here at MacStories: winner of an Apple Design Award in June 2010 and released on the Mac under the “Solar Walk” brand a few months ago, Star Walk is an incredible product that enables you to explore the universe (stars, constellations, planets, satellites) with swipes and taps thanks to iOS multitouch integration.
If you own a copy of Star Walk for the iPad and you recently bought an iPad 2, a brand new update is awaiting in the App Store. Released 2 days ago, Star Walk 5.2 (also available on the iPhone, the app is not universal) celebrates the 50th anniversary of the first human spaceflight (completed by Yuri Gagarin in his Vostok spacecraft on April 12, 1961) by adding several features like full Augmented Reality support. Similarly to how the SkyView app we reviewed in March allowed you to point your device to the sky and see the position of stars and constellations in real-time, Star Walk now lets you do the same and it works really well on the iPad 2. Among various bug fixes and enhancements to the control buttons, Star Walk 5.2 also includes a calendar of celestial events to plan your stargazing sessions within the app, and the possibility to search through all categories at once. We feel the Augmented Reality introduction is, however, the biggest and most important addition in this update, and you should consider giving a try to the app if you’ve heard of Star Walk in the past, and you just got an iPad 2. Exploring the universe is way more comfortable and elegant on the tablet’s large screen.
Thanks to the camera built into every iPhone (and now iPad), we have seen clever implementations of augmented reality applications in the past. Augmented Reality software, also known as “AR apps”, is meant to literally “augment” real-life objects you see on the device’s screen through the camera by adding digital information or other items. A navigation app like Where To, for example, places virtual directions on a real map captured by the iPhone’s camera. These experiments are very cool and show off the capabilities of iOS devices when combined with software that takes advantage of modern technologies.
SkyView, an iPhone app by Terminal Eleven, lets you explore the universe from your iPhone by simply pointing the camera to the sky. Using GPS coordinates, gyroscope rotation and 3D graphics, SkyView augments what you see by adding stars, planets, satellites, space stations and constellations on the screen.
Once you point the iPhone’s camera to the sky and the app fetches information correctly via GPS, you’ll see a variety of sky objects popping up on screen — like stars, the sun, satellites and so forth, depending on where you are in the world. If you tap on an item, a bar appears at the bottom of the screen revealing its name; tap again, and the bar will expand to show RA and DEC location. Tap the arrow, and SkyView will let you flick through a detailed description of the object you’ve discovered. If you select the Sun, Moon or another planet, you can also see the path they’ll follow during a 24 hour period. In the Settings, you can choose how many 3D layers to display or hide (including dwarf planets) and adjust time and date basing on your location.
At $0.99 in the App Store, SkyView is a neat experiment that makes great use of the iPhone’s camera. Check it out here, free version available as well.
I stumbled upon Space Gremlin for Mac today when browsing new releases and top paid categories in the Mac App Store. Not as sexy and shiny as Daisy Disk, Space Gremlin can scan any drive connected to your Mac (external, internal Mac HD, network drive through AirPort Extreme station) and provide an easy solution to visualize files that are eating space on your computer.
Space Gremlin doesn’t allow you to delete files and folders in-app like Daisy Disk does with the recent 2.0 update, however it comes with a more standard grid view that reminds me of the popular cleaning tool WinDirStat for Windows. From this grid view (scan took a few seconds on my 120 GB SSD), you can select folders to reveal them in Finder, navigate to deeper levels, zoom back and hide free space / hidden files. What’s cool is that you can also add specific folders (like system ones) to an ignore list because you know they’re there and you can’t delete them. You can access and modify the ignore list at any time from the toolbar, which also happens to have buttons to refresh folders and perform a new scan. I really, really appreciate the fact that, together with my FireWire drive, the app also recognized the USB one attached to my AirPort extreme and shared on my local network. From the “begin a new scan” window, you also have shortcuts to popular Places like the Desktop, Documents and Applications folders.
Space Gremlin doesn’t have the most beautiful interface you’ve ever seen, but gets the job done. I would like to see the possibility to delete files within the app in a future update, and smoother animations when switching between folders in the filesystems. Overall, Space Gremlin is a well-realized utility that you can get at $3.99 in the Mac App Store.
I found this app in the App Store this morning while I was looking for my daily software fix. I’ve always been interested in reading space-related material, but I’ve never really subscribed to a set of sources with my RSS reader or bought magazines for that matter. I just followed a bunch of people who regularly tweet that kind of news and I don’t mind giving Reddit’s space section a read every two days or so. (more…)