App Review: Star Walk for iPhone

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Star Walk App Review by msbaylor. For more App Reviews, see the TiPb iPhone App Store Forum Review Index!

Star Walk [$4.99 - iTunes link] is the best star-gazing application I have come across for the iPhone. Many of the features found within the application cannot be found in any others! This is one of the best developed and executed applications I have seen to hit the app store.

When the app opens, it will take a moment to load. I noticed that the app states on the loading page “The Universe – Yours to Discover” This is an awesome statement and very true to the app.

The user interface is very easy to navigate. When you get into the application, the app will automatically detect your location and arrange the sky as it is currently for you. You can use your finger to pan around the sky.

For 3GS users, tap on the screen once, then lift the iPhone up over your head & “peer through the viewfinder”. I could keep going on about this feature, but again, this is one of the best features of the app. Other iPhone/iTouch users can do the same however, you can only tilt vertically.

Tap on any object in the sky to select it and see its name.

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I however, ran into a few instances where the name did not show up until I viewed the full details. To view the details, you simply tap on the “i” in the top left-hand corner.

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Tap on it again to leave the details view. Most of the buttons that take you out of the full sky view, when tapped again, will take you back. However, the “w” button in the details view will take you to Wikipedia to view details on the Internet. This is a nice addition if you have the Internet access.

The clock in the top right-hand corner allows you to change the time of day/date to view the sky. I found it kind of fun to slide the slider so that it continued to rotate so I could view the sky as an “elapsed time” sort-of view. However, when doing this I also found it was a bit difficult to stop unless I tapped on the “now” button. Also if you have selected an object, the sky will “rotate” around it when you change the time/date.

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In the bottom-left-hand corner you have a search. And finally, in the bottom right-hand corner, tap the button to make 3 more appear, the bottom one, allows you to change On/Off settings – Night Mode, Constellations, & Sounds.

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You also have the ability to brighten of dim the sky (not brightness). You literally can make the smaller stars not appear or have them all appear according to your location. The middle button finds your current location or lets you view the sky from a different location.

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And the last one allows you to access & modify bookmarks.

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There are also some other neat things I found in the app:

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I found that the sun creates a flare on you “window.” It changes direction & angle as the sun revolves around you in the app. Also the sun literally dims in brightness and the flare disappears when another object comes in front it it. Another thing is the Moon. In the above screenshot you can see the moon and as it moves past the sun you can actually see the shadow move across it. These little details show that a lot of thought went into this app by the developers & designers.

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Conclusion

Overall this is an outstanding application, while it does seem to have a few minor issues this is a fairly solid app. The one thing I'd really like to see would be - in the full sky view, the sky would constantly be in motion when you aren't customizing the time/date. This way, 30 minutes later while you are still in the app, the sky is literally "tracking" with you.

I highly recommend it to anyone even remotely interested in Astronomy or star gazing. At $4.99 this is an awesome app, if you have an iPhone 3GS, then it's a steal!

Pros:

  • Intuitive Interface
  • Search for planets, constellations, etc. & view details
  • Current location or search for another area.
  • 3GS users can utilize the compass/tilt feature, other users do not have access to the compass feature.
  • Zoom in & out, tap to select object in sky
  • Night view (red tint)
  • View the sky for a specific time of day

Cons:

  • When viewing details about some items, text is too long to fit in box (text gets cut off)
  • The sound the app makes when “typing” out the object's details is a little annoying.
  • Not all objects show a label when highlighted by the green circle (does show up in details)

TiPb Review Rating

TiPb Forums Review: 4.5 Star App

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Reader comments

App Review: Star Walk for iPhone

11 Comments

“The Universe – Yours to Discover” This is an awesome statement
this review is so in depth it tells you what to think about this statement!

I like Star Walk the best!!! Tried the others but Star Walk is the one that always managed to impress me and proved so far the most solid. Re annoying sounds, you can turn them off in the settings :o)

@Jennifer True, you can turn off the sound. However what I was getting at was - it'd be nice to have a sound for the pane movement, but not for each individual letter. In otherwords, I like all the other sounds, this one was just too repetative.

I have several astro apps in my iPhone (Pocket Universe, Distant Sun, Star Gazer, Star Map) and can say that Star Walk is the best. The interface is so easy to understand, the graphic is so smooth and eye candy that all others look ugly and difficult to use.

It looks really nice!
And they make improvements all the time. I have it for 3 months and they added digital compass, added new stars, and improved resolution. Maybe something else I don't remember.
But I'm looking forward to new options! :-)

I like this application so much! This summer when I was camping it was my favorite way of spending time to gaze the night sky and use Star Walk as my personal guide in getting aquainted with stars and planets.

I like it very much as well, as someone who has tried to learn the stars and understand their movements for over 50 years. I am hoping someone star-savvy will create a web page dedicated to using Star Walk to explore what's overhead.
It's not a very intuitive app, but then again it's also fun to discover how it works. I haven't even taken it outside yet and have probably spent 3 or 4 hours watching the interplay of the planets as they travel around the sun. And the trying to understand movement of the stars and constellations. And enjoying an odd sense of time travel.
Here's a suggestion: Try selecting Polaris and see what happens when you do the time lapse function. Then compare the movement you see to any close-by star. I'll let someone else volunteer why the movements are so strikingly different. Watch the E and W indicators to see what I mean.
Incidentally, the reviewer pointed out two things. The first one was right.
If you tell the time lapse function to advance by the day, with the Sun selected, you can see the moon go slipping by and will sometimes cross the face of the Sun. Not long ago there was a full eclipse, and Star Walk lets you go back in time to see exactly when that happened. There are other full eclipses as well if you have the patience to keep watching.
But the reviewer gave a slight misdirection on one other thing. You do not have to touch "now" to make it stop advancing or going back in time. (This may be a recent improvement.)
Just touch the time grid to make it halt at that particular time, otherwise you return to your current time, or "now." Select year, month hour or minute to change time lapse speed.
A helpful review for one of my favorite apps!

@Hunter You are correct about tapping the time to stop the time lapse. However, I think that is a recent improvement because at the time of the review, I distinctly remember tapping it and it would continue to move - just slightly.
There are a few discrepancies in the application & if you want a more astro-accurate app, SkyVoyager is the way to go.