22 April 2010
The Guinness Book of Records used the London Book Fair to launch its new iPad app. It's a lite app, with a handful of records in eight different categories and was discussed as being a way to test the market and gauge the response to it.
The user experience is great. You drag two fingers across the screen to move to different sections. The animation is much more sophisticated than a simple page turn: the different elements of the design scroll into view at different speeds with objects closer to the horizon moving more slowly (parallax scrolling, to use the technical term). This creates a nice feeling of depth in the user interface. The menu options are well labelled, so there's no confusion about where to tap. The screen feels roughly A4 sized and the resolution is good, so the illustration can include striking photographs.
When you drill down to the content, there's a mixture of text, video, photos and audio (depending on the record you're viewing).
The device itself feels lightweight and comfortable, although I'm not sure how I would hold it if I really wanted to have a book-like experience with it. A laptop is hinged so the screen can be propped up at the right angle, and a paperback book feels easier to hold in one hand at the right angle. I only had a few minutes to play with it, though. And it's worth saying that the print book of the Guinness Book of Records is too big to hold comfortably for too long anyway. It's not the kind of book you'd take on the tube.
For the launch, the Guinness stand was attended by record holders including the world's tallest married couple and new record breaker Ben Lee who played Flight of the Bumblebee on the violin, showing the skill that helped him shave a second off the world record earlier this month. For many people, though, the real star of the show was the iPad. I wonder whether Guinness will be able to repeat its print sales record in this new digital format?