Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. Requires iOS 4.0 or later.Vic-Heritage,
Age Rating: 4+
Launched this week, Vic-Heritage is a guide to significant buildings and points of interest in Melbourne and regional Victoria.
The app, published by the Victorian Department of Planning and Community Development (DPCD) and developed by Melbourne-based Outware Mobile, is billed as “the perfect companion for visitors or locals with an interest in architecture and design, history and heritage”.
First off, the app presents you with a disclaimer saying that providing your name and email address is optional, but that it’s useful to the DPCD to collect user-generated content and better understand the cultural heritage significance of the places noted here.
That’s all very well, and we know they have to do it, but having it pop up as the first screen of the app is a little disconcerting.
When you accept the disclaimer you’re taken to the home screen. It’s a simple, blue-and-white design that gives you two options – Search Heritage or Find Heritage Places Near Me.
Both buttons do exactly what they say. Tapping on the first pops up a search field and keyboard. As soon as you’ve tapped in three letters the app begins returning results – a great time-saver, and a saving grace for those times when you don’t know the full name of what you’re looking for, or how to spell it.
The second button uses geo-location to pinpoint your current position and then shows you heritage places near you, either as a list or on a Google map.
The results, based on the Victorian Heritage Database, are excellent, presented as a series of images you can flip through (it would be nice if they were larger on the page) and, below them, interesting facts about the place: Name, address, the what, how and why of its significance, the year construction started, its architectural style and the municipality it falls under. A second tab takes you to user-generated text and pictures, and you can add your own (anonymously or under a user name, as mentioned before)
The pages can be shared via email, SMS, Facebook, Twitter or Tumbler.
At any time you can begin a search or find local heritage sites using a menu bar at the bottom of the screen. Here you’ll also find a Tours button, to find tours such as ‘Melbourne Murals’, ‘Ghosts of Old Docklands’, ’20th Century Architecture Tour’ and ‘South Gippsland Tour’.
You can even create your own tours, which is quite good if you often host interstate or overseas visitors but don’t always have the time to show them around.
The ‘tours’, however, are really just collections of entries rather than proper tours that take you from one point of interest to another with directions and possible audio commentary. It would be nice to see these in a future update.
All in all, this app is an excellent resource for both visitors and locals. We’ve only been using it for a couple of days, and we’re already looking at our city with renewed interest. Highly recommended.