June 16, 2024

App Smart: The Dress, the Ring, the In-Laws: Navigating the Royal Wedding

I know nothing about it — not because I believe that watching a bucket of gravel is somehow better than watching a wedding between Prince William and Kate Middleton, two people of immense celebrity.

In fact, I’m deeply intrigued by all the possible story lines. What on earth will the bride wear? Will her old flames be invited? Will someone make a really inappropriate toast? Will the queen hit the dance floor?

Because I refuse to be left in the dark about such matters — and because I’ve temporarily sworn off all information that doesn’t come in mobile form — I’ve found apps that purport to shed light on these and other essential royal wedding questions.

That list includes The Royal Wedding by NBC News (free on Apple and, soon, for Android), The Royal Wedding by Hello! (free on Apple), Royal Wedding — The Wills and Kate Story ($2 on Apple), BBC America’s Royal Wedding Insider (free on Apple and Android), and, for children, Will and Kate ($4 on iPad). Westminster Abbey also announced plans to release an app, Abbey 3D (around $5 for Apple and Android), but it has not yet reached the market.

The dearth of useful Android apps in this category is an interesting sidelight that may or may not reveal a personality split among Android users.

Maybe Android users are from Mars and Apple users are from Venus. One thing is clear: The best royal wedding app developers are, predictably enough, from Britain.

The Royal Wedding by Hello!, for instance, was downright good, for a free app. The top corner of the home page includes a countdown to the big day (as if anyone could forget), above nine categories of content.

That material seems directed at wedding of the century dilettantes like me. The Royal Romance section, for instance, includes a slide show with major events in the couple’s courtship.

The History section has excellent vintage photos of past royal weddings, like that of the Queen Mother and George VI at Westminster Abbey in 1923. One quibble: you can’t pinch-and-zoom on the photos.

The Dress section, too, is interesting. Well-known designers offer sketches for the wedding dress they would have made for Kate, had they been asked, along with captions that explain their intentions.

The William section includes a slide show of the young man’s life, complete with a photo of him, at age 15, with his father and brother just a few days before Princess Diana died.

Royal Wedding — The Wills and Kate Story is from the publisher of Britain’s Daily Mirror, and includes 10 photo-heavy chapters on the couple’s lives, along with a video introduction from the Mirror’s top royal correspondent for each section.

It may not provide as much entertainment as, say, Angry Birds, but for $2, the app offers a fair amount of content, in a well-designed format.

BBC America’s Royal Wedding Insider is one of the only apps from a major media company to appear on both Android and Apple. The good news is that it is free. Unfortunately, it’s an uneven product.

Royal Wedding Insider features seven categories of information. In the My Royal Wedding section, for instance, users are prompted to scroll through various elements that they might choose if they were planning their own royal wedding. For me, it was a bit like scrolling through a thinly populated wedding magazine.

The Video section is somewhat strange. It includes clips of celebrities looking into the camera and offering their sincere greetings to the royal couple. The actor Paul Rudd, for instance, asks them to consider the Big Island of Hawaii as a honeymoon destination.

Far better is the app’s Blog section, where BBC America’s reporters weigh in on the sort of tiny details that wedding spectators will presumably snap up. Last week, the blog reported speculation that Kate’s hair would not be “half-up, half-down,” as previously rumored. The latest gossip is “100 percent down” and “flowy.”

Speaking of words children would use, one of the better wild-card entries in this Royal Wedding competition is a children’s book for iPads, Will and Kate. Parents can rely on the app to help their children partly understand the enormous buzz surrounding the event, and they can get a little laugh while doing so.

The book includes fun interactive touches as it guides users through an illustrated version of the courtship and wedding, including a depiction of Kate waking up on the day of the ceremony and, only then, deciding what to wear. Users get to help her choose the dress.

The Royal Wedding by NBC News does a fairly good job representing the American news media. The app is slow at times, perhaps because it features heavy doses of broadcast news video to preview the event and recap past events, but the coverage is comprehensive.

And it’s not completely geared toward video.

In one section, NBC lays out the route the couple will take from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Abbey. Users can take a brief video tour, but they’re far better served by touching specific points on the map. That yields a set of still photos describing points of interest, with well-researched captions.

Did you know, for instance, that Westminster Abbey has hosted the crowning of monarchs since the 11th century? And that we are approaching a Westminster Abbey event of nearly the same magnitude as a coronation?

For the record, that event takes place around 6 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time, on Friday, April 29.

Speaking of which, I could find no apps that will offer supplementary video for the wedding, in the manner of apps for the Oscars, March Madness and other big events.

I won’t be watching on an app, though. For this royal wedding fan, it’ll be strictly big screen or nothing.

Quick Calls

iMedjet (free on Apple and, recently, on Android) offers first-aid information for travelers. It’s clearly written and well-organized, and you don’t need a data connection to read the content. … Baseball coaches who want game articles written for local papers should consider GameChanger, free on Android and Apple. It’s a well-designed scorekeeping app that automatically generates game articles.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/21/technology/personaltech/21smart.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

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