Timeline American Civil War Review

Timeline American Civil War Review

The conflict that shaped America is at your fingertips

There are plenty of defining events that history buffs would love to get a closer look at. With series of apps such as Timeline, devices like the iPad now act as a window onto such events. Following on from World Wars I and II and medieval history, the American Civil War is the latest period to get the interactive history treatment.

Timeline American Civil War is packed with a range of media, including audio, video and 500 photos from the era to bring the past back to life. This includes newspaper articles, personal accounts, and much more to help build up a vivid picture of life and the social climate before, during and after the war. There are also commentaries from leading historians to help paint an accurate picture of the conflict as it unfolded.

Offering an immersive historical experience, you can view all 1,200 of these artefacts on either a timeline or as a map of the civil war’s 400 battles and skirmishes. Should you see something on the timeline that you would like to view in geographical context, tap the globe icon that appears in the top corner of each entry to be redirected to the map view. It’s a seamless jump that gives greater perspective than any textbook, and the ability to jump back and forth between the two core areas of the app via tabs at the top of screen gives you greater control to the user to decide how the prefer to learn and study.

On the subject of functionality, another useful aspect of the app is the scrollable year marker that can be used to jump to different points in the conflict. At the same time, you can pinch zoom in and out of the timeline, focusing on single days, or all the way out to view the entire duration of the conflict, condensed into a single screen of key information. Tap on any image within the timeline and it appears fullscreen, complete with a caption giving more details. Users can swipe through every item in the timeline chronologically, using the links to jump to the map

There is a hitch in continuity and fluidity here however, as once you go to the map you can’t return to the same point in the timeline, you have to search to find your place again. It’s a small but furstrating oversight that might curb your curiosity at times, which is a shame given how much the app has to offer.

For when you don’t have the time to explore the app in-depth, there are some handy videos that offer a digested guide to the war.  Respected historians  deliver a condensed history lesson, reviewing the salient details of several years in a matter of minutes. These are great whether you’re using the app for some serious learning or just casual interest.

As a user experience, there is plenty to help guide you towards the aspects of the war that interest you. It’s also worth noting that on the home screen there’s an ‘On This Day In History’ window, and you can jump to its screen in a tap. It’s a nice way to instantly pull yourself into the app when you first open it as well as explore events and details that you might otherwise overlook.

The only issue we have with the app is the inability to shake a feeling of a lack of depth at times. Yes, there is an impressive number of artefacts and information to absorb, but this is all in the form of flashcards that you can swipe through or pinpoints on a map. There is nothing beyond that, and that feels like a shortcoming when you compare it to some of the other interactive reference apps out there. History lovers will still rush to download it, and those with a genuine interest in learning more about the Civil War should do so, but more casual observers might find that this doesn’t quite grab them.

Rated 3 out of 5

Collates some stunning artefacts, but fails to dazzle when presenting the wealth of material available.