(some) iPhone Apps for Archaeologists Part II

Back in 2008 I was playing around with my iPhone at the Presidio and since then the number and range of applications has multiplied exponentially. I haven’t done a summary since then (and the purchase of my iPhone 4), and while I haven’t even begun to explore the vast range of possibilities, here are a few that I’ve noticed that seem somewhat useful.

I have been using Hipstamatic, Plastic Bullet, and Best Camera in various combinations for my walking-around, snappy photos where I either don’t have my DSLR handy or I don’t feel like the composition warrants a 10M RAW file. While I get a bit of abuse for overusing my iPhone camera, I found myself taking photos again after a long hiatus and I like the casual feel of these photos. I like playing with my iPhone camera apps so much that I’m showing a few photos that I’ve taken with them at the upcoming UC Berkeley TAG.

My iPhone costs a bundle to use overseas, so I’ve disabled my data plan and txt messages and I haven’t taken it off airplane mode since early December. (It’s been sooo nice, but that’s another topic entirely.) I still use it to pick up wireless and use Skype to call back home when I can. Not exactly archaeological, but absolutely essential–Moxie Marlinspike, anarchist sailor & hacker speaks truly, “the curse of traveling – where you end up knowing and loving people in many different places and are always missing someone or something somewhere.” (If you haven’t watched Hold Fast yet, do it ASAP! But don’t blame me for any ensuing wanderlust.)

I just downloaded Theodolite Free, which has mixed reviews but looks interesting. I can spot check it against the EDM, so that should be interesting–if I decide to get a sim card in the iPhone that will work in Qatar. It’s great for checking your pesky azimuth and bearing while taking photographs.

Finally, the application(s) that inspired this post: Qibla direction applications. There’s a structure on site that we think might be the town mosque, and it appears to be out of alignment with the rest of the structures, and it is the western-most building–closest to Mecca. Obviously we’re in the process of working up the plans, but Dan thought of spot-checking after seeing the built-in compass for the iPhone. Again, I’ll probably need to activate data to use the application, but I find the idea pretty interesting. While it’s pretty reductionist to attribute the Muslim world’s long-standing, intense interest in navigation and time-keeping to keeping up with prayer time & direction, it is interesting to see the modern iteration of the gorgeous astrolabes hanging in the Islamic Art Museum in Doha in an iPhone application. These applications are expensive and the negative commentary is fascinating–if you have a bug in your software, then you are directly impacting the worship of your consumers. The comment section in the eQibla app that I linked to has questions in English, Arabic, Turkish, and French, some folks asking how to turn off push notifications, change the prayer time tuning, and re-calibrate the compass. While it may or may not help with figure out our mosque, it might be worth .99 just for the glimpse into another religion/temporal way of life.

Anyone have other suggestions?

Author: colleenmorgan

Dr. Colleen Morgan (ORCID 0000-0001-6907-5535) is the Lecturer in Digital Archaeology and Heritage in the Department of Archaeology at the University of York. She conducts research on digital media and archaeology, with a special focus on embodiment, avatars, genetics and bioarchaeology. She is interested in building archaeological narratives with emerging technology, including photography, video, mobile and locative devices. Through archaeological making she explores past lifeways and our current understanding of heritage, especially regarding issues of authority, authenticity, and identity.

3 thoughts on “(some) iPhone Apps for Archaeologists Part II”

  1. I want more augmented reality apps– let’s start being able to data tag 3d points in pictures using the gyro and some sort of georeferencing from the GPS so that i can measure features without having to you know, like, move from under my palm frond fan.

    I await the flood of programming offers.

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