Tree Of Life - PRO
Tree of life is an app that allows the user to investigate the family level phylogenetic tree of all organisms allowing users to investigate the evolution history of the bio-diversity off all species. Pinch gestures are supported which really helps with navigation. The app is navigated by scrolling around the outside of the huge visual map of all living organisms and selecting the silhouette to open the sub set of species and its phylogenetic tree. Taxonomic families are viewed as images and the app uses links to open sources such as Wikipedia ™ to allow the user to view more details of these within the app itself. The app makes use of text based searches as well as the visual search. Nodes are used to allow users to search whole sub-trees of larger groups. This is a app of huge depth and breadth of learning and to say that the content is exhaustive is a major understatement as the app refers to over 2,000 organisms.
As is stated on the support website page not all of the content is there yet, which some users may find annoying. When put in to the context of the hugeness of the coverage of this app it is not that surprising. Some users may find the fact that they have paid for this version and expecting it to be a completed app a little disappointing. The content as it is still vast in its scope. The app is a good value for money considering the vastness of the subject covered. The content is very well put together with great referencing. It is slick, simple and easy to navigate around. Good use of the hardware functionality i.e. the pinch has been used. The content is a good combination of being appealing, but also being accurate. The app makes good use of pop ups that give the user their results and it is very easy to navigate either back in to the app or to view extra information sources from other open sources such as Wikipedia™ The ability to use a voice search is of great value, but is not really highlighted as a feature. This is a really useful feature and makes searching a great deal easier.
What maybe a neat feature would be the ability to turn the image using pinch rather turning the iPad/iPhone. There is no print sharing or collaboration. It may be useful to have a limited way of printing or sharing the excellent images and information referenced within the app. There is no way of ascertain levels of understanding. The app would benefit from some form of gamification. There are no differing levels of difficulty and there is not much in the way of being able to extend the scope of the app as it stands at the moment as there is no feedback or scoring mechanism and the need of a bookmarking system would be very helpful. The user has to remember where they have been. If this app was used in a group situation different tasks could be allocated to different groups and all of their results shared with the whole group. This would make the app eminently of greater value in an educational environment. When connecting to Facebook or Twitter from within the app there is a pop in Spanish. This is not too much of an issue except the rest of the app is in English. There are no use of sounds. Even the use of a positive sound as button confirmation may be helpful to some users. The support website of a great quality and give the user a sense that the developer is very professional. A contact number of the app’s support website would be a useful feature.
From the Developer
The Tree of Life App is an interactive and illustrated family-level phylogeny of living beings based upon an integration of data from hundreds of published phylogenetic studies. Main groups of organisms –from Bacteria to Vertebrates- are displayed in the initial tree as collapsed branches that can be opened to view family level relationships.
Tree of Life Pro allows users to open all the locked groups in the Lite version (BACTERIA, EURYARCHAEOTA, EXCAVATA, AMOEBOZOA, HEXACTINELLIDA, SCALIDOPHORA, TARDIGRADA, NEMERTEA, SYNDERMATA). Moreover, users will have access to the currently unavailable groups that are being developed and will be made available very soon (PLANTS, FUNGI, INSECTS, etc).
The interactivity and contents of the Tree of Life App include the following features:
- Zooming in or out in order to explore a very large tree
- Tapping on the pictures to see family details such as common names, and quick links to Wikipedia
- Collapsing clades into single branches to summarize or hide undesired details
- Viewing subtrees of special interest
- A search feature enabling users to find specific organisms either by common or scientific family names
- A time scale to determine divergence dates among lineages and dates of extinction of fossil families
The phylogenetic tree of life will be updated monthly to include recent findings and it guarantees to illustrate the most up-to date state of the art about evolutionary relationships among living beings.