Download the App and Enjoy – The Sonnets by William Shakespeare

Total Score: 29.5

The Sonnets by William Shakespeare is another jewel from the crew at Touch Press.  They created the popular apps for iPad – Leonardo da Vinci: Anatomy, The Elements, Jewels and Gems and X is for X-Ray.  To call this app a success barely covers the achievement.  I will let the key features speak for themselves.  There are 154 performances of the sonnets synchronized to the text.  Included with the app is the 1609 Quarto, the first published edition of the sonnets.  You will also have access to the Arden Shakespeare’s complete notes, new commentary by Don Paterson and videos of expert perspectives.   It is visually rich and fun to explore.

  Price Rating = 5     $13.99.    Yes, this is a lot of money for an app.  It is a bargain for what you get.   Performances + original text + commentary + ability to share via social media. If you were to buy a book with just the sonnets it would be about this cost.  With this app you get much, much more.

Ease of Use Rating = 5     It has all the standard features in a book app – scrolling text, a lot of links to move you around the app easily and auto-start videos.

 Readability Rating = 5     The fonts are a good size and when in the performance mode, the text is highlighted as the performer speaks.

 Will You Use It Rating = 5     This app presents each sonnet filmatically, textually, and adds commentary.  It is very appealing.

 Downsides Rating = 0     This is a full-featured app, and therefore is large.  You will need about 1.5GB of space for it.   For some that might be a downside.  I will not deduct any points for it.

  Consumer Review Rating = 4.5     This app was just introduced this week.  There are not a lot of reviews, but almost all are positive.

Why Do You Need This App Rating = 5     There are a number of groups that will find this app valuable.  Students, of course, would find it enjoyable.  If you already have knowledge of the sonnets, this app will only enhance your experiences.  Some of the performances are thrilling.  If you have no knowledge of the sonnets, this is an excellent way to get started.

How does it work?

  1. The home screen on the app offers you multiple choices.  You can simply scroll through all 154 sonnets by choosing the “Sonnets” option.
  2. You can read a reproduction of the 1609 Quarto, by choosing the “Facsimile” option.
  3. By choosing the “Notes” option, you can scroll through pages with the sonnet at the top (or side depending on how you hold the iPad) and optional commentary at the bottom.  You will see Arden’s notes, Don Patterson’s commentary and have the ability to add your own notes.
  4. If you choose the “Performances” option, you see a screen with actor photos.  When you tap on a photo you will see a brief bio of the actor and the sonnet (or sonnets) this actor voices.  If you have the iPad in landscape mode the performance will show as a full screen.  If you put your iPad in portrait mode, you see the actor and the sonnet with each line highlighted as the actor performs it. You can share performances via email, on Twitter or through Facebook.
  5. The “Perspective” option offers nine brief videos explaining different aspects of a sonnet.  Examples are:  What is a sonnet?  The sonnet form.  Shakespeare’s contribution to the sonnet.
  6. The “Arden Introduction” provides you with a scholarly introduction to the sonnet.
  7. The “Favourites” tab allows you to store your favorite sonnets for easy viewing.
  8. You also have options to switch back and forth between views after you select an option.  For example:  In the Sonnet view there are three icons at the bottom of the screen.  One (on the left) looks like a small piece of film.  It takes you to the performance.  The notebook icon (in the middle) takes you to the notes section and the icon on the right (it has an “f” for folio) takes you to the Quarto.

Taken all together, this is an amazing collection of information.  It will take me a while to get through all 154 performances and I look forward to the journey.  It is a journey I expect to take many times.

Devices:  Designed by Touch Press, LLP, this app is compatible with iPad and requires iOS 5.0 or later.

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