iPad

Sir Ian McKellen Releases New Apps to Make Shakespeare’s Plays More Enjoyable & Accessible

in iPad, Literature, Theatre | May 2nd, 2016

tempest app

FYI: Ian McKellen, who first made his reputation performing at the Royal Shakespeare Company in the 1970s and 80s, has just released the first of a series of iPad apps meant to make Shakespeare’s plays more accessible, especially for high school and college students.

As McKellen explains above, Shakespeare’s plays were originally meant to be seen performed live in a theatre, not read as books. And so these apps feature actors performing dramatic scenes from the plays, while text scrolls by. They’ve just launched the first of 37 apps. It’s devoted to The Tempest, runs $5.99 on iTunes, and frankly seems well worth the price. Benedict Cumberbatch likes it. See below.

The app also includes these features:

  • The full text of The Tempest as published in the First Folio.
  • A full digital version of Arden Shakespeare The Tempest.
  • The ability to switch between three different levels of notes depending on the level of reader’s needs.
  • A full breakdown and explanation of every character and all of their lines across every scene.
  • A linked historical time line of Shakespeare’s life, his plays, his theatres, and contemporary context to put it all into perspective.
  • Video explanations and discussions by both Sir Ian McKellen and Professor Sir Jonathan Bate on characters, themes, and the meaning of the play.
  • A full “play at a glance” with illustrations and summaries to explain the play’s plot with key quotes and events.
  • A history of all the major productions of The Tempest from the 17th century to the present day.
  • The option to make notes, copy and highlight text that can be collected, correlated and exported for later use.
  • The option to search the play’s full text and essays.

Keep your eye on Heuristic Shakespeare’s iTunes site for new Shakespeare apps down the line.

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A 68 Hour Playlist of Shakespeare’s Plays Being Performed by Great Actors: Gielgud, McKellen & More

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Fill Your New Kindle, iPad, iPhone, eReader with Free eBooks, Movies, Audio Books, Online Courses & More

in Audio Books, e-books, Film, iPad, Online Courses | December 25th, 2014

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Santa left a new KindleiPad, Kindle Fire or other media player under your tree. He did his job. Now we’ll do ours. We’ll tell you how to fill those devices with free intelligent media — great books, movies, courses, and all of the rest. And if you didn’t get a new gadget, fear not. You can access all of these materials on the good old fashioned computer. Here we go:

Free eBooks: You have always wanted to read the great works. And now is your chance. When you dive into our Free eBooks collection you will find 700 great works by some classic writers (Dickens, Dostoevsky, Shakespeare and Tolstoy) and contemporary writers (F. Scott Fitzgerald, Philip K. Dick, Isaac Asimov, and Kurt Vonnegut). The collection also gives you access to the 51-volume Harvard Classics.

If you’re an iPad/iPhone user, the download process is super easy. Just click the “iPad/iPhone” links and you’re good to go. Kindle and Nook users will generally want to click the “Kindle + Other Formats links” to download ebook files, but we’d suggest watching these instructional videos (Kindle – Nook) beforehand.

Free Audio Books: What better way to spend your free time than listening to some of the greatest books ever written? This page contains a vast number of free audio books — 630 works in total — including texts by Arthur Conan Doyle, James Joyce, Jane Austen, Edgar Allan Poe, George Orwell and more recent writers — Italo Calvino, Vladimir Nabokov, Raymond Carver, etc. You can download these classic books straight to your gadgets, then listen as you go.

[Note: If you’re looking for a contemporary book, you can download one free audio book from Audible.com. Find details on Audible’s no-strings-attached deal here.]

Free Online Courses: This list brings together over 1100 free online courses from leading universities, including Stanford, Yale, MIT, UC Berkeley, Oxford and beyond.




These full-fledged courses range across all disciplines — historyphysicsphilosophypsychology, business, and beyond. Most all of these courses are available in audio, and roughly 75% are available in video. You can’t receive credits or certificates for these courses (click here for courses that do offer certificates). But the amount of personal enrichment you will derive is immeasurable.

Free Movies: With a click of a mouse, or a tap of your touch screen, you will have access to 700 great movies. The collection hosts many classics, westerns, indies, documentaries, silent films and film noir favorites. It features work by some of our great directors (Alfred Hitchcock, Orson Welles, Andrei Tarkovsky, Stanley Kubrick, Jean-Luc Godard and David Lynch) and performances by cinema legends: John Wayne, Jack Nicholson, Audrey Hepburn, Charlie Chaplin, and beyond. On this one page, you will find thousands of hours of cinema bliss.

Free Language Lessons: Perhaps learning a new language is high on your list of New Year’s resolutions. Well, here is a great way to do it. Take your pick of 46 languages, including Spanish, French, Italian, Mandarin, English, Russian, Dutch, even Finnish, Yiddish and Esperanto. These lessons are all free and ready to download.

Free Textbooks: And one last item for the lifelong learners among you. We have scoured the web and pulled together a list of 200 Free Textbooks. It’s a great resource particularly if you’re looking to learn math, computer science or physics on your own. There might be a diamond in the rough here for you.

Thank Santa, maybe thank us, and enjoy that new device….

Dan Colman is the founder/editor of Open Culture. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus and share intelligent media with your friends. Or better yet, sign up for our daily email and get a daily dose of Open Culture in your inbox.

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Longform’s New, Free App Lets You Read Great Journalism from Your Favorite Publishers

in iPad, iPhone, Magazines, Media | September 23rd, 2014

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If you have managed to keep your attention span intact during this distracting information age, then you’re almost certainly familiar with Longform.org, a web site that makes it easy to find something great to read online, especially if you like reading informative, well-crafted works of non-fiction. Last week, Longform enhanced its service with the release of a new, free app for iPhone and iPad. It’s the “only 100% free app that filters out the internet junk and delivers nothing but smart, in-depth reads.” And, drawing on material from 1,000 publishers, the app lets readers “create their own custom feeds of high quality, feature-length journalism,” and then read it all on the go. It’s a mission that certainly aligns with ours, so we’re more than happy to give the new app a plug.

Sign up for our daily email and, once a day, we’ll bundle all of our daily posts and drop them in your inbox, in an easy-to-read format. You don’t have to come to us; we’ll come to you!

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Free Stanley Kubrick App Features Great Photos, Script Notes, Interviews & More

in Film, iPad, iPhone | March 14th, 2014

KubrickScreenIn 2012, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) unveiled a sprawling, exhaustive exhibit on Stanley Kubrick. And it had just about everything you might want on the great director. Early photographs he took for Look magazine in the 1940s? Check. The blood soaked dresses of those creepy twins from The Shining? You got it! Sketches, notes and documents about Napoleon, the greatest movie he never made? They had a whole room for that. For those cinephiles who worship at Kubrick’s altar, LACMA’s exhibit was akin to a visit to the Vatican. There were more holy relics there than you could shake a monolith at—oh, and they had one of those there too.

The exhibit wrapped up in June 2013. If you missed it and you are jonesing for more Kubrick memorabilia, take heart — LACMA designed an app in conjunction with the exhibit for the iPhone, iPad and Android and you can download it right now. For free. The app is about as sprawling as the exhibit (and it will take a bit of time to download) but it features hand drawn notes from Kubrick, behind-the-scenes pictures from all of his movies, and interviews with the director, plus ones with the likes of Elvis Mitchell, Christopher Nolan and Douglas Trumbull.

The only thing that the app and the exhibit didn’t cover is the ever-growing number of insane conspiracy theories surrounding his work. Want something about how The Shining is really about a faked moon landing or how Eyes Wide Shut is really about the Illuminati? Look somewhere else.

Related Content:

Stanley Kubrick’s Daughter Shares Photos of Herself Growing Up on Her Father’s Film Sets

Dark Side of the Moon: A Mockumentary on Stanley Kubrick and the Moon Landing Hoax

Stanley Kubrick’s Very First Films: Three Short Documentaries – Free Online

Rare 1960s Audio: Stanley Kubrick’s Big Interview with The New Yorker

Jonathan Crow is a Los Angeles-based writer and filmmaker whose work has appeared in Yahoo!, The Hollywood Reporter, and other publications. You can follow him at @jonccrow.

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Free App Lets You Play Chess With 23-Year-Old Norwegian World Champion Magnus Carlsen

in iPad, iPhone, Video Games | February 28th, 2014

Chess has been experiencing a surprising revival as of late, with the World Championships making headlines for the first time in  years. As it was during the days of Bobby Fischer and later Garry Kasparov, the resurgence is largely the doing of one man: Norway’s 23-year-old chess phenom, Magnus Carlsen. After having attained the level of a grandmaster at the age of 13, Carlsen had a string of spectacular victories that culminated in his win over India’s Viswanathan Anand in the world championships this past November. Carlsen also holds the highest rating in the game’s history. Oh, and he beat Bill Gates in 79 seconds (here’s a video). What’s next for the reigning king of chess? A free iOS chess app, of course.

The Magnus Plays app, which allows users to play against a simulated Carlsen, was  released this past Tuesday. If you’re worried that your technical prowess may not stack up against the new face of chess, don’t worry: the app relies on a vast database of moves that Carlsen used throughout the years, allowing you to play him anywhere from the ages of 5 to 23. I’m not a particularly adept chess player, but I didn’t have too much trouble with Carlsen at his youngest. The victory bolstered my confidence, so I decided to skip to Carlsen’s current 23-year-old self. As much as I’d like to discuss the outcome of the second game, it’s probably best to skim over the results. Suffice it to say that I have room for improvement. Luckily, the app also has a “Train With Me” section, where Carlsen provides video tutorials (some free, and some paid) on how to improve your game. If you’re feeling like you’ve lost a few IQ points after repeated bouts with Flappy Bird, Magnus Plays is a great alternative.

via Kottke.org

Ilia Blinderman is a Montreal-based culture and science writer. Follow him at @iliablinderman, or read more of his writing at the Huffington Post.

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Free Interactive e-Books from NASA Reveal History, Discoveries of the Hubble & Webb Telescopes

in Astronomy, e-books, iPad, Photography | June 25th, 2013

OrionNebula

Earlier this month NASA announced that the Hubble Space Telescope found evidence of a planet forming 7.5 billion miles from its star. This astonishing discovery challenges all of our current theories about how planets develop.

A few days later, Hubble captured images of two galaxies merging.

Hubble has been in orbit since 1990, collecting images with one of the largest and most versatile telescopes designed for deep space. No single tool has done as much to advance astronomical public relations in recent years.

Hubble’s development, launch and discoveries are the subject of a new, free interactive e-book (best viewed on the iPad) that brings to life Hubble’s distinguished service as our eye on the universe.

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For almost as long as Hubble has been in space, NASA has been working on the next generation space telescope. The James Webb Space Telescope will feature a mirror three times the size of Hubble’s. Once launched, the telescope will travel far beyond our Moon. NASA’s free e-book about the Webb Telescope reveals the preparation going on to get the new tool ready for take-off.

NasaSlide3

Its large mirror and distant viewing position are expected to give Webb’s images higher resolution and sensitivity, allowing scientists to study the birth and evolution of galaxies as well as the formation of stars and planets.

The e-books are written at a high school level and can be viewed on an iPad using a free iBooks app. If you don’t have an iPad, no need to worry. A non-interactive version of the Hubble eBooks is also available, as is one about the Webb Telescope.

You will find these books in our collections, 800 Free eBooks for iPad, Kindle & Other Devices and 200 Free Kids Educational Resources: Video Lessons, Apps, Books, Websites & More

Related Content:

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Kate Rix writes about digital media and education. Visit her website and follow her on Twitter @mskaterix.

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Leonard Bernstein Conducts Beethoven’s 9th in a Classic 1979 Performance

in iPad, iPhone, Music | May 4th, 2013

Even if you don’t know classical music, you know Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9. Finished in 1824, Beethoven’s final complete symphony, and the first from any major composer to use voices, has risen to and remained at the top of the Western orchestral canon as one of the most frequently performed symphonies in existence. The Japanese have even gone so far as to make it a New Year’s tradition. I remember, when first learning the Japanese language, watching an educational video about an amateur neighborhood chorus converting the original German into more readable Japanese phonetic script, so as to better sing it for their celebration. A charming story, to be sure, but at the top of the post, you’ll find Beethoven’s 9th rendered with the exact opposite of amateurism by the Wiener Philharmoniker, with Leonard Bernstein conducting. (Part one, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four.) Then again, at the root of “amateur” lies the term “to love,” and who would dare accuse Bernstein, however consummately professional a man of music, of not loving this symphony?

“I’ve just finished filming and recording the great 9th Symphony,” Bernstein says in the clip just above, describing how the experience got him thinking about historical dates. “My associations led me back to the year of my own birth, 1918, the year of the great armistice which brought the First World War to an end. Now, I had the key. The password was peace, armistice, brotherhood — ‘ain’t gonna study war no more.’  Peace, brotherhood, we are all children of one father, let us embrace one another, all the millions of us, friendship, love, joy: these, of course, are the key words and phrases from [Friedrich] Schiller’s [“Ode to Joy“] to which Beethoven attached that glorious music, ranging from the mysterious to the radiant to the devout to the ecstatic.” You can also watch the performance that put Bernstein’s mind on this track as one of the many included in Beethoven 9, Deutsche Grammophon’s first iPad/iPhone/iPod app. For free, you get two minutes of the symphony with all features enabled. “The full experience,” their site adds, ” is then unlocked through In-App Purchase.”

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Bernstein Breaks Down Beethoven

Colin Marshall hosts and produces Notebook on Cities and Culture and writes essays on literature, film, cities, Asia, and aesthetics. He’s at work on a book about Los AngelesA Los Angeles Primer. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall.

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Download the Universe: A Discerning Curator for Science eBooks

in Amazon Kindle, e-books, Education, iPad, Literature, Science | March 5th, 2013

download the universe

We all need guides for the overwhelming world of the Internet. Digital curators are essential to sifting through the vast and expanding supply of online content because they find the good stuff that’s worth checking out.

When Download the Universe launched a year ago, the digital world gained a smart and discerning curator for the growing number of science ebooks. What a boon for science lovers. Science lends itself uniquely to apps and ebook publishing. And doing what digital publishing does best, a good ebook can bring content to life like no paperback or hardcover can.

fragile earth

Take Harper Collins’ Fragile Earth ($2.99 on iTunes), which came out originally as a glossy coffee table book. Loaded with before and after photos of places on the planet scarred by deforestation and climate change, the book was visually stunning, if pedantic. But when released as an ebook, the whole experience unfolded like a beautiful, heartbreaking origami.

As Download the Universe’s review of the Fragile Earth ebook  points out, the app version benefits from digital technology, laying before and after satellite images over one another, rather than side by side, making the experience of seeing them  even more profound.

color uncovered

Here’s another one: Color Uncovered (free on iTunes), produced by San Francisco’s Exploratorium Museum, is a rich experience like a museum exhibit itself. Combining text with images and interactive features, the ebook explores how the eye perceives color. The reviewer, New York Times contributor Carl Zimmer, uses his review to discuss what the ebook experience shares with museum exhibits.

In the hands of Download the Universe, it appears that ebook publishing has matured into its own genre, with its own distinct advantages.

blindsight

Sometimes ebook publishers don’t make good use of available features. This review of Blindsight by journalist Chris Colin notes that the book’s app version, telling the story of a television director who suffers a brain injury, should have included neurological background information in the main story, not as a separate feature.

Download the Universe only reviews ebooks in the digital universe, not spin-offs from traditional print books. They look at Kindle products, self-published pdf manuscripts and apps, and they’ve got top-notch talent reviewing this brave new world on our behalf. The editorial board includes some names you may well recognize, like Sean Carroll (Caltech physicist), Steve Silberman (Wired), Maggie Koerth-Baker (Boing Boing), Annalee Newitz (io9), and David Dobbs (NYTimes, Nat Geo, etc.).

Related Content:

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375 Free eBooks: Download to Kindle, iPad/iPhone & Nook 

Kate Rix writes about digital media and education. Read more of her work at katerixwriter.com.

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Learn to Build iPhone & iPad Apps with Stanford’s Free Course, Coding Together

in iPad, iPhone, Online Courses, Stanford | January 28th, 2013

Screen Shot 2013-01-28 at 1.01.26 PMJust a quick fyi. In the past week, Stanford has launched the latest version of Coding Together, the popular course that teaches Stanford students — and now students worldwide — how to build apps for the iPhone and iPad. Taught by Paul Hegarty, the latest version of the free course focuses on how to build apps in iOS 6, and the lectures will be gradually rolled onto iTunes from January 22 through March 28. Find the first lectures here.

This course, along with other top-flight coding courses, appears in the Computer Science section of our big collection of 650 Free Online Courses, where you’ll also find courses on Philosophy, History, Physics and other topics.

Looking for tutorials on building apps in Android? Find them here.

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Watch Philip Glass Remix His Own Music—Then Try it Yourself With a New App

in Art, iPad, iPhone, Music, Video - Arts & Culture | January 18th, 2013

We told you in the fall about the album released by Beck and a troupe of other musicians to celebrate composer Philip Glass’s 75th birthday. Rework—Philip Glass Remixed is a collection of Glass works by artists including Beck, Tyondai Braxton, and Cornelius. Turns out that Glass himself was pretty turned on by the results. In the above video, Glass plays around with his own music using an interactive “Glass Machine” app, designed to complement the album.

You can almost see the wheels in Glass’s head turning as he swipes and taps away on the screen, creating new loops with phrases from his own music.

The app that Glass enjoys so much is available to anyone with an iPad, iPod touch or iPhone (3Gs or newer) and $10. The Rework app was designed by Scott Snibbe, who also created the interactive galaxy in Bjork’s Biophilia app.

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The app includes eleven interactive visualizations of remixed songs from the Rework album (example on left) and a Glass Machine, allowing users to create their own Glass-inspired music.

As Glass himself said, while playing with the Machine, “the user has become the artist.”

Related Content

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‘The Ballad of the Skeletons’: Allen Ginsberg’s 1996 Collaboration with Philip Glass and Paul McCartney

Kate Rix writes about digital media and education. Read more of her work at katerixwriter.com.  

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