Spaced, an Astronomy News Android App
Jun 22, 2011 7:59 AM –
Spaced. Aspiring astronomers and astronauts can get regularly updated news stories regarding NASA and other space industry sources right to their Android phone. The app also comes with a solar activity panel which shows current information about the sun; temperature, density, solar wind speed and pressure.
Price: Free, ~$1.28
Tested on: HTC Desire HD
Pros & Cons:
- Great reading panels.
- Access to NASA TV and HD videos.
- Extra information like when the next launch date is, number of Exoplanets and space weather.
- Nice polished interface.
- Click to enlarge pictures.
- No way of sharing articles.
- No means to archive interesting articles.
- The only articles you can access are the last 5 that have been published, you cannot search articles from before this.
Spaced is perhaps an essential app for people interested in astronomy, the universe, space travel and NASA. It presents news stories related to these topics, straight from NASA and other such sources. The stories are presented in a delicious crisp reader, and you can click on the pictures to enlarge- and some of these pics are breathtaking so it is well worth doing!
There is also the ability to access the NASA TV HD videos where you will see interviews and news pieces related to the agency. This is a nice touch and provides additional content which, a single story alone, is quite limited. This is one let down of the app in that you can only view the last 5 published stories- there are no means to access content before this. Unfortunately this severely limits the app and how often you might use it. If the app could simply allow access to previously released stories or an archive of NASA news, this would be a very different proposition.
Another disappointment is that you cannot share the stories once you have read them. This is quite novel for a news application, because every other I have personally used or reviewed allows you to share stories in any number of ways; email, SMS, social networks, ReadItLater, etc. but not this one. Unfortunately you will have to share the old fashioned way and point your phone screen at someone! Likewise interesting articles cannot be archived for later reading. This too is disappointing for a news application.
The interface is nice, looks professional and quite polished. The reader itself is quite plush, rendering white lettering on a black backdrop- very spacey! Many news readers, however, offer a reading experiences that can invert this- black letters on white, but not so with Spaced. Like the other issues with the app, this is disappointing and lets down the user experience.
I genuinely think with some tweaks this could be a brilliant app for anyone interested in astronomy. If simple things were added like the ability to share or view older articles, this app could be a really superb resource that encourages interest in science, space travel, NASA and astronomy. In it’s current state however, it just like reading a newspaper with just 5 headlines- very limiting in usage and quite frustrating for those who wanted more.
Spaced – Extra Information screen
Spaced – News Feed
Spaced – In-article view
Spaced – In-article view 2
Spaced – Click on pictures to enlarge 1
Spaced – Click on pictures to enlarge 2
With a very limited number of stories, it is quite a casual application. Dedicated astronomy and science fans will probably have a range of resources with more to it than this.
Ease of Use:
The app is simple to use, but then distinct lack of options simplify it further. You can engage with three areas of the screen- the stories, the small TV (which gives extra info such as space weather) and a banner of video links along the bottom. That really is it; there is no menu, options, settings or preferences.
At the time of writing, the stories on the page now date back to 13th June 2011, the latest story was on the 17th. Either it is very quiet on the space news front or it does not update very frequently. On this basis it is not really worth checking every day, more like once a week to see if there has been any updates.
The interface is quite nice and some thought has gone into the overall look of the application, it’s such a shame it currently is severely restricted in options available.