Price: $5.99 Download on the App Store
SAS Survival Guide - HarperCollins Publishers has teamed up with Trellisys.net 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.