Mobile

NASA’s space weather app has great images but lags on engagement

NASA

This story is part of Nextgov’s Building Better Apps project.

NASA’s Space Weather Media Viewer mobile app is filled with compelling images of the sun and other celestial bodies, some of them updated minute by minute.

The app’s designers could have done a better job, though, explaining just what the user is seeing and why it’s important, according to Nextgov’s team of private sector app reviewers.

“The visualizations don’t have any audio so it’s hard to figure out what I’m looking at,” said Matt Thazhmon, chief executive of PowerInbox. “Maybe you could have the description text available as a scrollable region below.”

Also, some of the images were too slow to load, said Yaron Oren, chief operating officer at iSpeech.

In addition to live images and visualizations, the Space Viewer features videos of scientists describing space events. Our reviewers gave the app 3.8 points out of 5, making it one of the most popular apps reviewed so far.

In future releases, the app designers should consider offering users push notifications when they can view major space events such as large amounts of solar flare activity, said Ted Chan, founder of PracticeQuiz.com.

“Otherwise, you look once, you say it’s pretty, and then you might move on and not open the app ever again,” he said.

Chan also suggested offering a more kid-friendly version of the app for young students interested in space.

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