Star gazing apps are a very interesting development. Back when smartphones first dropped on the market, I never would have guessed that by using a combination of augmented reality, GPS, and an accelerometer that developers would have crafted mini-telescopes. But here we are, and Star Walk 2 in particular seems to have upgraded its predecessors functionality.
The way the augmented reality function works essentially is that it draws from the cardinal directions and displays the sky based on your location. You don’t necessarily have to point it directly at the constellation, star, or planet you’re seeking—just by enabling location services you’ll be good to go. It’s that simple, and I was pretty surprised that it just worked immediately.
But how is it an upgrade from the first app? One of the new features is a “simpler” interface, which is something I noticed immediately after booting it up. Everything is cleaner, to the point where you rarely have to hunt to find a particular function. Graphically everything is more minimal, but also has a sharper design. I liked the cleaner look, as it makes it fairly easy to navigate around the sky.
Unfortunately there is a drawback. Even after paying $2.99 for the base program, some content is gated off by in-app-purchasing. Constellations are free for a limited time, but you’ll have to pay for planetary nebulae, dwarf planets, asteroids, comets, and satellites. It’s a bit of a let-down as other apps have all of this included in the base price, but you can nab everything for $1.99 extra if you’re comfortable.
Star Walk 2 goes back to the basics. It isn’t overly complicated and professionals will probably want to look elsewhere. But for the average inexperienced star gazer, it’s much easier to pick up and enjoy.
Star Walk 2 is an iOS app that can be downloaded for $2.99 in the iTunes App Store.