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Smithsonian Channel Unveils a Great New iPad App

by An Xiao on March 12, 2012

The Smithsonian Channel's iPad app features a smooth, swipe and tap interface to quickly browse through different video options. Image via iTunes App Store.

The Smithsonian Channel's iPad app features a smooth, swipe and tap interface to quickly browse through different video options. Image via iTunes App Store.

LOS ANGELES — New in the Apple Store this month is the Smithsonian Channel’s iPad app, which lets you play videos from the Channel’s extensive programming. It includes short clips for a quick burst of knowledge during the day, as well as longer documentaries for an extended viewing.

As long as you have access to wifi, you can tap into the broad selection of videos, from short documentaries like a look at how Leonardo Da Vinci used layers to develop the Mona Lisa, to longer works like Tattoo Odyssey, a look at tattoo culture around the world.  The videos play seamlessly in crisp, full-screen resolution.

While the app covers a wide variety of topics, from animals to World War II, Hyperallergic readers will particularly enjoy the art, architecture and design collections.  For this, the Smithsonian taps into its extensive arts archives, which includes the Cooper Hewitt in New York. You can, for instance, watch documentary on the Wizard of Oz, a look at the Hope Diamond, and — for your favorite museum professional — even a feature on conservatory work at the Smithsonian.

The coolest feature at the moment is Story Space, an interactive playlist that lets you create your own channel based on subjects and specific stories.  It features an awkward circle format that takes a little getting used to, but once you’ve sorted out your shows, you can simply hit “Play.”  Like an iTunes playlist, the videos play in order. This makes for addictive viewing, especially with the short documentaries.

When I lived in Washington, DC, I used to love visiting the Smithsonian and continued to follow the institution through their website and magazine. It’s great to see an iPad app being offered for  visitors like me, who continue to visit virtually.

The Smithsonian Channel for iPad can be downloaded for free at the iTunes App Store.

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