“ Brand: Readdle „
Shakespeare is one of those authors that divides opinion like no other. Many think he is the greatest playwright the country has ever produced; others - scarred no doubt by memories of dull school lessons - hate him. If you fall into the latter camp, stop reading now because this review will be of no interest. If you fall anywhere short of outright Shakespeare hating, you might be interested in this app.
The Shakespeare Pro app contains the complete works of Shakespeare - 41 plays, 154 sonnets, and 6 poems, including doubtful works). That's an impressive amount of words at your fingertips, and it;s just the tip of the iceberg as far as the content is concerned.
Shakespeare Pro has been developed with usability in mind. The interface might not be particularly sophisticated or the most stunning looking, but it is effective and easy to use. On firing up the app, you are presented with an alphabetical list of Shakespeare's works which can be clicked on to view the full text. It's slightly frustrating that, as far as I can see, you can't re-arrange this list - for example chronologically, which is where the interface is perhaps a touch basic.
The app has been well designed to work on both iPad and iPhone. Whilst it's obviously more readable on the iPad's bigger screen, the text remains nice and clear on the iPhone. Once viewing a text, there is lots of additional functionality. Sections can be highlighted and your own notes added; you can search for individual words - either within a specific play or across the whole app (much easier than having to leaf through hundreds of pages of a text); bookmarks can be added to mark pages of particular interest. In other words it has all the functionality you would expect from an e-book in 2014.
Perhaps the only downside comes with the navigation which is initially confusing. Icons at the bottom of the screen guide you through the play currently being viewed, whilst icons at the top of the screen navigate back to the main app options. At first, it wasn't clear to me how I exited a book to get back to the main menu, which was a slight issue. However, once you've worked it out, it soon becomes second nature.
There are a couple of other nice features. A Quotes feature randomly generates a quote (or an insult if you prefer!) from one of the works, although it's slightly disappointing that it doesn't tell you which play the quote is from. You can have an alert send a Quote of the Day if you wish, although I have this feature disabled.. A potted biography of Shakespeare makes for interesting reading and ensures you are aware of the man behind the plays (at least, what little is known of him!), but it's a shame the app shies away from the whole authorship debate over who actually wrote the works.
The app comes complete with a glossary to help you understand those difficult to understand 17th century words and this can be accessed either as a book in its own right (again, an alphabetical listing) or within a play - simply highlight a troublesome word to view a definition.
As if that wasn't enough, the app also contains the text of a book called "Tales of Shakespeare" by Charles and Mary Lamb. This provides a brief overview/summary of many of the plays, aimed at younger readers who might find Shakespeare's language and play format somewhat daunting. It's a slightly older text (originally written in the mid-90s), so some of the language perhaps feels a little stilted now. Nevertheless, it's a great way to help your child understand Shakespeare.
What's really most impressive is that I have only really touched on the main features - there are so many more I have hardly mentioned: the ability to share notes and bookmarks with others, reproductions of various images (and possible images) of Shakespeare, the option to change the font or text size. The list goes on and on.
It's easy to see lots of uses for this app. If you're a regular theatregoer it's gives you a handy, portable copy of a play's text to take with you. perfect ; if you're a student of literature, it's both a handy pocket guide to Shakespeare and his works in one reference work; or if you just want to check up a quick Shakespeare quote, then it's the perfect app for that. The £6.99 price might make the eyes water a little in comparison to many apps, but it's not overly expensive for what you get. True, you can get the Collected Works of Shakespeare on Kindle for a couple of quid, but that's just the texts. This app gives you so much more.
If he'd been alive today I'm sure Shakespeare himself would have been impressed by the power of this app. Instant access to his complete works contained on a device several times smaller or lighter than a standard paperback book. What's not to like? It's well designed and potentially of interest to so many people that it's hard to see why you wouldn't want it on your phone - unless you hate Shakespeare, of course. But if that's the case, why have you read so far?
© copyright SWSt 2014