Thursday, 20 January 2011

Iphone for the Romance Author: Top Three Apps

2011 seems to be the year of technology for me. First there was the Kindle, which is inexorably bankrupting me through its one click wondrous (is it right to live off porridge to fund my reading habit?). Now there is the iphone, which arrived yesterday in all its gleaming apple-designed glory. Many people will have embraced the world of smartphones long ago. Sadly, I had the misfortune of misplacing my smartish mobile phone somewhere between Edinburgh and Glasgow and have since made do with the most basic of basic square lumps of plastic, which does what phones were originally designed to do: call people.

So why would I blog about an iphone on a blog which is ostensibly about romantic fiction and writing?

Because I am so excited by the potential that iphone has to offer an aspiring romance author!

It's not just that you can browse the internet, look up dictionaries or write on the move; after all a netbook is much better suited to those particular activities. It's not just that you can block out the world by filling yours ears with music from your inbuilt ipod. And it isn't because you can e-books on the tiny screen, thus giving you a library in your pocket (as averse to Kindle's library in your handbag).

It's because of the wonderful fusion of primary resources and interactive technology that brings you a series of Apps which are just perfect for the historical romance author. Here are my top picks:
  1. For people who like to plot out a battlefield or work out the sweep of the Ottoman Empire, History: Maps of the World is worth a look. It has a good range of maps from all around the world and across the centuries in excellent resolution.

  2. For people who like to give a sense of time and place by referring to contemporary events, you can look up what was happening on any given day in history on the (free) HistoryTools app. This was created by the people behind the Writers Dream Tools web resource and I love it. If I wanted (for example) to have a quick look at some of the births, deaths and developments in 1825 I can find out in moments that Beethoven made his last appearance on 19 September, that Nicholas I became Tsar on 1st December and that the first public steam railway opened on 27 September. Just the sort of things my characters might be gossiping about over breakfast.

  3. Last but not least, for those who fancy themselves as the next Jean Plaidy, I am in love with the neat little Walking Through Time app. This piece of historical cleverness overlays historical maps/places onto modern maps and allows you tootle around them using GPS. If want to find out more about a particular site, one click will give you access to information and often to a recording drawn from primary sources. The app is a collaboration between Edinburgh College of Art and the University of Edinburgh using maps provided by the Landmark Information Group and the National Library of Scotland. At the moment, it largely concerns Edinburgh, but I notice there are calls to extend the application to London and other places. I have my fingers crossed for this: it would be ideal for my planned Regency Walking Tour of London!

I can't wait to see what else iphone might have to offer in the weeks to come. If anyone has any other apps to recommend, please do list them here!


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