SAS Survival Guide App Repackaged for a new Generation

SAS Survival Guide (AppStore Link)
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SAS Survival Guide
Price: $5.99 Download on the App Store

sas survival guide appSAS Survival Guide - HarperCollins Publishers has teamed up with to bring you an iPhone app of...a book. Granted, it's a classic, the distillation of the survival knowledge of 26-year Special Air Services veteran John "Lofty" Wiseman.

The entire SAS Survival Guide is here, covering Sea Coast, Desert Tropics, Polar environments, and even Urban disasters. You'll find everything within the various chapters from how to make good guesses at weather by cloud formations, to how to navigate by the sun and the stars, to what amount of metal, brick, or wood will shield you from radiation. Chapters include First Aid, Hunting (yes, that means fishing and trapping too), Wild Food, and Camp. Essentials covers the materials you'll want in your kit to prepare for the big adventure.

The SAS Survival Guide app also has some juicy extras not in the book, like a Morse code signaling device, a sun compass, and an interactive quiz. There's also plenty of video of Lofty explaining how to make fire, build shelter, catch food, and generally get by in places you have no business being.

But for everything that SAS Survival Guide did right, there are also some serious disappointments within this app.

Wiseman lists a mobile phone as possibly having survival value. He mentions GPS, but as a separate device. Which may explain why there is no GPS access from within the SAS Survival Guide app.

Lofty goes on to explain that you may want a hand charger for the mobile phone—though he seems unaware that external solar chargers for iPhone exist. Neither the iPhone nor the charger is in his Survival Kit Check List.

Memo to SAS developers: When using the SAS Survival Guide as an app, it's a pretty safe bet that the iPhone is no longer optional. Omitting the charger is worse. By such omissions the app contradicts Wiseman's philosophy. The SAS Survival Guide app leaves you unprepared—especially when you consider the battery-draining potential of all that video. Including the flashing, beeping Morse code signaler is just asking for it.

This is really a lesson for all developers (or marketing departments) intent on repackaging their best-selling media as a new app. Don't make an app just to have an app. If you want your product to survive in the App Store, then set out to build an app that takes advantage of iPhone-specific features. Kudos to the crew for adding video, photo galleries and morse code, but a survival app that doesn't use GPS to pinpoint your position just seems like its missing something.

Lofty thought through his survival essays, tips, checklists, and case studies like your life might depend on them. It's why the SAS Survival Guide is still worth buying—the content is classic. It's a pity nobody thought through the implications of packaging the Guide in an app.

Image Gallery: SAS Survival Guide

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  • Rohit Regonayak

    Firstly, Thank you for the very comprehensive and well researched review of the SAS Survival Guide for the iPhone. This is indeed the million copy bestseller in a new Avatar.

    I'd like to take this opportunity to explain a few decisions that were made during the building of the application, which interestingly are related to the points you make in your review

    Regarding the Solar Charger for the iPhone.
    I'm sure you would have noticed that the default Checklists on the iPhone are infact "editable". We have considered adding a iPhone Charger in the Survival checklist but did not do so as it is not exactly a 'survival necessity'. Lofty himself advises and encourages people to add any personal requirements into the Checklists that are specific to their needs like medications, spare spectacles etc. These then become a handy list to consider before any journey.

    Regarding the use of the GPS receiver: As the GPS functionality already exists as a default application on the iPhone 3GS device, bundling this functionality within of the SAS Survival Guide breaks Apple’s “Duplication of existing functionality” clause for any apps on the iPhone unless there is a very specific value addition. Moreover the SAS Survival App is built for any iPhone/iTouch model running the 3.0 Operating System including devices that don’t have an inbuilt GPS receiver.The Sun Compass bundled with the application is for use in times when the GPS signal is either weak or not available. This is a handy way to find direction based on the current time and the location of the sun.

    Please visit or contact us at with any suggestions or clarifications

  • Niel

    Great app. Love it.

  • Roger

    Just bought . looks helpful, I am gonna like this...

    Thank you for the review.

  • Ryan

    how ever will we survive without our iphones, wifi, and cellphone connection.

    When the battery on this thing runs out, you only have three days to live.

  • Anil
  • iPhoneAppsFanBoy

    The SAS Survival Guide is brilliant. Great reading, superbly organized and overall a good value for money.

    Lofty does know his stuff and the developers have done a good job at bringing it all together on both the iPad and iPhone ( I have both versions ). Videos are very informative.

    Very nice to see a that AppCraver agrees with me and has given this app a good review.