Ultimate Sharks ($4.99) by Discovery Communications provides an in-depth look at some of the world’s most dangerous sharks.
It’s late summer, which can only mean one thing for Discovery Channel: Shark Week! The whole week is nothing but back-to-back shark programs, a tradition started back in 1987. While this app compliments Shark Week, it is also independent of it, meaning you can keep coming back as long as you’d like.
The sharks featured include: great white, tiger, bull, oceanic whitetip, shortfin mako, gray reef, lemon, blue, and ragged tooth. Selecting a shark brings up the intro page, which gives a general overview, a video, and a photo gallery. The shark swims out of nowhere until its nose is right up on you. It bobs back and forth, even covering some of its intro text at times. Seeing the bull shark gave me the heebie jeebies.
Each shark comes with a number of features. The interactive 3D shark mode is by far the most fun. This brings up a beautifully rendered model of the shark. You can rotate it from side to side, getting more of a detailed view than you would like to have in real life, and you can also make it to swim, hunt, and attack.
Other features include video with scroll control (adjust the scrubbing rate), size comparisons (a great white is described as a “Lincoln town car with teeth”), as well as Google Map markers of attacks. Each shark has basically the same setup, though the features are also customized to the sharks’ different characteristics.
The app has plenty of media, including photos and videos. And of course, this being a Discovery product, each video is narrated by deep-voiced everyman Mike Rowe.
Fans of Shark Week may recognize some of the clips, but there is new content as well. Any video less than a minute is local to the app, but anything longer requires a Wi-Fi connection to play. These videos sometimes cut out on me, despite my good Internet connection.
The interface and shark models are beautiful, though I was shocked at the lack of sound. I would have expected at least ambient water sounds, teeth gnashing, or piercing violin blasts. Maybe the app is reinforcing how silent these predators can be.
Shark Week is all about informing people of how misunderstood and disrespected sharks are, and this app falls right in line with that ideology.