Bottom Line: A ton of info and data presented in a cohesive summarized way, including a ton of multimedia. Would serve as a nice introductory app or starter reference tool for older children learning about WWII or as a nice historical refresher for adults.
"We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender..."
Although we generally focus on ABC/123 educational apps for younger children, there is a large and growing market for educational apps for ALL age groups, including older students and adults. World War II interactive falls into the latter market and is a well-done and often fascinating look at the world's greatest conflict.
World War II interactive, to me, represents a great example of why, at some point in the not too distant future, tablets will replace textbooks. Whether we like it or not, children today live in an electronic, fully-interactive multimedia world and to sit them down with the same kind of textbooks people used 100 years ago is a recipe for a complete lack of engagement on any topic, and WWII is a critical one.
In the app, WWII is divided into nine sections, from Roots of the War to Aftermath, and each section has "event" subsections to allow for further burrowing into specific areas of interest. The section German Blitzkrieg, for example, is broken down into Blitzkrieg, Invasion of Denmark and Norway, Battle of France, Battle of Dunkirk, Italy Declares War, Battle of Britain, and The Blitz.
I appreciate that the app starts with events as early as 1918, rather than with "Hitler invades Poland" and ends with info as late as 1991.
The sections are also broken down into a really extensive date-by-date timeline and a map that shows the progression of the war globally.
Each subsection displays a page of text, photos/videos and other pertinent info. On the Attack On Pearl Harbor page, there is text detailing the Background, Objectives, Japanese declaration of war and The Attack, along an old news-reel video, the audio of Franklin D. Roosevelt's "Day of Infamy" speech, and a number of photos.
And remember, that's just one subsection. There is a ton of info here.
A multimedia section that breaks the material down into photo features (600+ photos), videos (36) and speeches (6). There is also an index with links to events, multimedia, people, weapons, and others.
The multimedia aspect is where the app really shines with me, and makes it accessible to younger kids (approximately 9+), who might have some trouble comprehending the text. For instance, the remarkable 16mm color video of the the raising of the American flag on Iwo Jima is included.
There's far too much here, and certainly too much that the average older student hasn't seen, not to recommend the app if it is appropriate to your educational situation as a parent or teacher (or adult who wants to take a look), but I do have some suggestions for future updates.
* It is clear that the developers wanted to make the app usable even if an internet connection wasn't available (and didn't want it to be too big MB-wise.) Some of the videos and speeches have been clipped to 30 seconds or so, and there are no external links if the user wants to learn more about a particular subject.
I really didn't like to be drawn into some of the multimedia aspects and have it chopped so abruptly. Perhaps an additional multimedia section could be added for those who want to see/hear the entire video/speech and are connected. Listening to a Churchill speech clipped to 30 seconds made me strongly consider reducing the app to three-and-a-half stars.
* There should be a link to the people section from the home page. Detailing the stories of the people involved in any major historical event are critical, to me at least, to make it interesting. I also wish the characterizations included a bit more info about the individual personalities outside what they did in WWII as many were fascinating characters in and of themselves.
* There are a few videos that I strongly recommend including in the next update: a fiery Hitler speech, with English translation, such as Nuremberg in 1934 that properly displays his ferocity and Churchill's 1941 speech to the Harrow School (or at least the "never give in, never, never, never, never-in nothing, great or small, large or petty" part).
All in all, though, I recommend World War II Interactive, but since its standard price is $4.99, only if you have an older child who you think will enjoy it or are looking for supplementary material towards an educational/classroom goal.
If you would like to download World War II Interactive please support Smart Apps for Kids by using the links provided. The cost is the same, but Smart Apps receives a small percentage. Thanks for your support!
This review was written by Ron Engel who, at around 30, started to realize how little he had been taught about World War II in school. smartappsforkids.com was paid a priority-review fee to complete this review in an expedited manner.