Thursday, May 30, 2013

An educational app looking to make a difference

One of the most beautiful apps that I have downloaded in my quest for apps is the one developed by the World Wildlife Fund. There is exceptional detail to the layout and the stories within the story and the photography is gorgeous. The app explores a number of animals on WWF’s list of endangered animals. The list is (sadly) ever-expanding, and WWF does a really good job of adding stories to the list.

The app is well-constructed and once you get the hang of it, easy to navigate. Each animal is introduced by a single word. The word is meant (I think) to typify one fact about them. The Tiger’s word is Solitude, the Snow leopard’s word is Rarity and the Panda’s word is Charisma. Inside each story, the user receives facts about the animal, including 3 threats to their existence, their current population, their habitat and the distance that they are from where the user is (The snow leopard is 6,700 miles from me – the polar bear is 1327 miles and the bison is just down the road, at 503 miles). Each story includes photos of the animals at various spots in their habitats and video and interactivity to keep it interesting. For example, in the Gorilla story, one page shows leaves that need to be gathered up into a circle. Once they are all gathered, another fact about the gorilla’s foraging and movement activity is revealed. On another screen a number of dots move towards a centre dot. When you tap on the dot, it mimics the thumping behaviour that gorillas use as aggression displays to warn off other males. The thumping that you do also brings up other types of behaviours used by the gorilla male.

This app is free to download at the iTunes store and WWF is doing a great job of adding new stories to it. One of the features shows a globe, with dots indicating the locations of threatened animals. I imagine that the intent is that eventually the app will have all the stories of all the animals.

One last thing that I particularly like is that there is no overt asking for donations – that certainly is one of the ways that the user can help – but it is not first on their list. And they make sharing the app via Facebook, Twitter and email easy.


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