Kingdom of Plants with David Attenborough
The Godfather of natural history brings his latest show to iOS
As with most things in which David Attenborough is involved, Kingdom of Plants is the sort of project that will instantly grab your attention.
The TV show was filmed with 3D in mind, and the time-lapse footage shows behaviour that has never been seen before. The joy for iPad owners is that this feeling of wonderment has been very well transferred to the show’s client app so you can appreciate it on its own.
It’s actually probably a touch harsh to refer to this app as a client, as Kingdom of Plants has enough unique features to be allowed to stand alone.
Where it triumphs is the way it introduces interactivity into the already engrossing format that Attenborough creates, through his narration and explanation of the things you see. The developer is well aware of the pull the national treasure, Attenborough, has on users, and so the app contains more than 45 minutes of video with him, which amounts to nearly a full episode of one of his programmes. But of course this is an iPad app, so you get to control what you see and how you interact with it on your iPad.
Upon opening the app you are presented with a layered home screen in the form of a tree, with each branch and green leaf representing a subject area or theme within the app. Tap the trunk and the leaves will retreat to the background and a second layer will appear on screen – made up of brown leaves.
These each represent an individual part of Kew Gardens, where the show was created and filmed. This is a notable feature of the app, as it doesn’t just focus on the plant life, but also where this is all taking place, and how the botanical gardens play a huge part in the human study of the plant world.
Users will also notice the home screen features a detailed map of the gardens, and tapping the door of the greenhouse on the home screen takes you to a separate screen where some of the key areas of Kew are further described and explained.
Detail is a huge part of this app, something that users will quickly discover as they begin visiting the different sections. Each one is defined by a main, full screen image, flanked by two boxes of text. From here the interactive settings begin to vary, but at least one video will be on offer on the subject at hand, whether it be the unusual beauty of certain plants, or how they capture nutrients from animals.
The textboxes can be scrolled through, and any accompanying videos are clearly indicated by the presence of the play arrow icon. There is every chance that you will be captivated by the various videos you see, but try and snap out of it and visit the in-section gallery of high-resolution images, as well as the brilliant Plant Time section. This allows you to take control of a time-lapse camera, and by slowly swiping your finger across the screen you can watch flowers bloom and plants grow in incredible detail.
Visually this app is impeccable, with crisp imagery and high-definition video that even looks impressive on the original generation iPad, which of course doesn’t boast Retina display. It is here, within the visuals, that the real joy of this app lies.
Yes, a fair amount of it is content lifted from the TV show, but there are also hundreds of images for users to scroll through and marvel at, showing the day-to-day work that goes on at Kew as well as the various aspects of the plant cycle.
The sub-section of the menu, which deals with the different areas of the Gardens and what lies within them, is just as impressive as the main bulk of the app, certainly from an interactive perspective anyway. Within each of the houses you can enter the Panorama mode, which allows you to look around at your own pace, raising and lowering your view as well as seeing 360 degrees around an area.
There are more photo galleries for you here, as well as an introductory and more in-depth video about what goes on within the house.
The simple conclusion is that if you’re a natural history enthusiast, and previous programmes like Planet Earth and Blue Planet are part of your DVD collection, then Kingdom of Plants will be right up your street. The detail and interactivity within the app are fantastic additions to material that is already captivating thanks to the presence of the master of factual programming.
Up there with the very best apps thanks to its detail, visuals and interactivity.
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