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World War II Interactive

By Internet Design Zone. For iOS 4.3 or later. Availble on iTunes, $4.99.

Though this app comes from a firm that specializes in cute kids’ stuff (its lead titles include DressUp for Girls), it turns out to be a cleanly designed entry-level survey of the war’s global tentacles. It doesn’t match the inspiration, expansive scope, or rich multi-layered depths of the more ramified—and more expensive— Timeline World War 2 (see the September/October 2013 issue’s review). But for anyone just getting interested in the war’s daunting complexity, World War II Interactive’s multimedia tiers of information offer a useful self-guided primer reaching from the Treaty of Versailles to Japan’s surrender.

World War II Interactve is divided into nine time periods (“Roots of the War,” each year of the conflict, then “Aftermath”), which appear in a row along the screen’s bottom. Tap any period’s picture to bring up the timeline listing events and a map. In 1941, for instance, are a handful of essentials: the Balkans Campaign, the Battle of Crete, North Africa’s desert offensive, the hunt for the Bismarck, Operation Barbarossa, the Siege of Leningrad, the Battle of Moscow, and Pearl Harbor. Each is accompanied by several hundred words of text (adapted from Wikipedia articles), a related picture or contemporary video or audio clip, and bullet points summarizing the who, when, where, and the outcome.

Naturally, once you’re in a topic you can branch out: the text for Barbarossa, for example, has embedded links to Leningrad, Moscow, and Stalingrad.

The raw materials here are conventional and limited, but serviceable for newcomers: 36 vintage videos that include battle sequences, six audio recordings of key speeches, and six photo collections. “Air Power: Major Aircraft used in World War II” has images and information for 14 planes, from the Avro Lancaster and B-17 to the A6M Zero and the Bf 109.

World War II Interactive is too basic an app to be fun or useful for hardcore history buffs. But for tyros and kids, it can inexpensively open the door.


Originally published in the February 2014 issue of World War II. To subscribe, click here.