Seadragon Mobile for iPhone From Microsoft Live Labs

Have you heard of Seadragon Mobile yet? It is a new app from the folks at Microsoft… and it was quietly (shhh) launched in the App Store the other day. After having read a few reviews and posts on the new app, I decided to give it a quick try.

I popped open the App Store on my iPhone and wasn’t surprised at all when the new app from Microsoft wasn’t in the featured area (ha!). I popped open a quick search, located the app (it’s FREE) and is a lightweight at only 1.1 MB.

The app claims to let you browse and view thousands of images OTA from your device. The big advantage of this app is it ‘should’ let you view large hi-res images at a reasonable speed. I’m talking large images, over a GB in size folks. Within Seadragon is a ‘Photosynth’ section, which in concept is supposed to let you explore other users’ collections of images from all over the world. At this time I couldn’t get Photosynth to produce any results for me, and Microsoft has noted that they are working on this functionality and it will be fixed soon. Can’t wait for Photosynth to start working properly.

Opening up the app I was actually a little excited. I knew that I had seen this application somewhere on TV before, and was really pleased to see it available for the iPhone (or any mobile device for that matter). Upon entry you’ll get the usual entry screen with logo and credits… no biggie.

Browsing the Library of Congress Category

Browsing the Library of Congress Category

However, once you get to the main screen, you’ll be presented with a bunch of content options. Choose from Art, History, Maps, Photosynth, Space and Technology & Web. I assume these categories will evolve and change over time. For my first venture I decided to pop into the ‘Library of Congress’ within the ‘History’ category. After a few minutes of loading, I was presented with an overview of all images available in that category. I could then pinch to zoom in and out, flick or move my finger around the screen to move from one image to the next… Double-tap on an image to zoom to that single image. It’s really self-explanitory, and really cool. The images within this category are of extremely high quality, so sometimes zooming in real close took a little too long on the load time for my liking. Other than that, I think things are really looking up for Seadragon Mobile.

I encourage you to go ahead and download this free app. Poke around with it a bit, as it is very intuitive. Lots of potential sits in this app in my opinion… The ability to easily upload and share hi-res images with family, friends and co-workers via the Photosynth option could be a great thing.

As I write this, the current rating of Seadragon Mobile is 3 out of 5 stars. I can completely agree with that rating at this time. Load times are at some times brutally slow…but that could be a combination of any number of things. That, and the lack of Photosynth functionality have me scratching my head and wanting more. If Microsoft can speed up the app somehow, and improve some deficiencies within the Photosynth functionality (at the very least get it working!)… They’re on to something here. Give it a shot and let me know what you think.

  • Shaun

    I think the maps on this are (graphically) more impressive than Google maps, but there’s no search function unfortunately.

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