The History of Jazz, An Interactive Timeline.

Last Thursday a friend shot me an email and told me I had to buy “The History of Jazz” for the iPad. In his email, he said this is one of the best looking apps he has seen in a while, and that the graphic design, user experience, layout and interface were phenomenal. When someone tells me something like this, I tend to be a little doubtful, but in this case the passionate accolades were absolutely correct.

I have had this app for half a week. I have spent time with it every day, exploring sections and seeing how the musicians, compositions, and artistry influenced others across the spectrum of jazz music. This app is as deep as Phaidon’s “Design Classics” and is so well done.

The user interface is designed to let you explore by decade, style, musician and band. It uses the standard touch metaphor that is associated with all iOS applications, optimizing the experience for scrolling with your fingers. As you dive into the sections, you can grab detailed information about the artist, which allows you to see a bio, watch video, listen to songs, and most importantly for 955 Dreams, the company that produced the application, you can purchase albums, songs and gift the app to others directly within “The History of Jazz”. The reason I want to stress how important this is, is because 955 Dreams has set up a transaction model that is unobtrusive and funds the development of the application. It is seamless and it works, and it doesn’t hard sell you.

As for the look of the application, it is simply stunning. You can tell that this was designed by a group of individuals that not only understand human interaction, but love graphic design as well. The color palette is bright and reflective of the music, the choice of fonts was well thought out with a choice that is fun and still very legible on-screen. Page layouts are well designed and easy to follow, and the over all look encourages you to explore the application. The editorial components are well written, historically accurate and easy to digest in a single sitting.

The well thought out design of this application, makes it easy to digest, and exploits what the iPad is doing for magazines, and books. It takes full advantage of the interactive nature of the medium, and expands on the possibilities, with the inclusion of audio and video. Something that is so essential for an application that deals with the subject of music.

The application costs $9.99, but it is completely worth it. If you are a music fan this is a must have. What I would love to see is for 955 Dreams, to create additional volumes  for different genres of music. An encyclopedia of sorts that you could have on your iPad. One that shows how a variety of music came together to create something new.

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