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8 March 2017
A great app for Megalithomaniacs

It's been many years since we started walking on parallel roads with our longtime friend Andy Burnham, the creator of the Megalithic Portal. Recently, he put the gigantic effort of his well known community of 'megalithomaniacs' on a tiny, useful app that runs on Apple iPhones and iPads. Simply titled 'Pocket Guide Megaliths', it is part of a larger series of touristic gudes created by the UK firm Senet Mobile.
     The strong point of this guide is the huge database of almost 50,000 worldwide sites created thanks to the collaboration of thousands of contributors of the Megalithic Portal. To keep its database as up-to-date as possible, after the first launch of the app a large dataset from the Portal is getting downloaded and stored on the device, which is a rather unusual - but clever - task for a self-contained app. Doing so, the app does allow later navigation to the sites without a data connection.
     The map view takes you directly to the UK - it should be better to display the user's current location, but this is an option available on a separate menu anyway - and clearly shows all the ancient sites as pins with different icons related with any kind of monument or museum. Of course, users can drag the map to any other country to see the distribution of all the sites stored in the database.
     Descriptions and the main photos are taken from the Megalithic Portal and there is a wide selection of filters - by type, by country and by properties, including access, accuracy and condition - so to pinpoint exactly the kind of ancient monuments we are looking for. Text searches are fast; there are useful functions as weather forecasts, torch and compass (using the device's own hardware), solar/lunar phases and rising/setting times and the possibility to add custom notes and bookmark sites. Of great help is also a nice range and height finder, useful to calculate the height of a monument knowing its distance from the observer or the distance knowing its height.
     The Megaliths app may not look exceedingly polished, as it seems to be based on a template shared by other apps of the 'Pocket Guide' series, but it's easy to use and navigate. Its best selling point is the extensive database of sites and the convenience to keep all the information in a tiny package that is easy to carry around, without the need of a constant data connection.
     Members of the Megalithic Portal Society are entitiled to a free copy of the app, that is also available on the Apple iTunes store for £ 1.99/1,99 €/$ 1.99.
     
Stone Pages (8 March 2017)

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