Here’s a new app that had me racing to the Google Play Store as fast as my Fire could burn. Google has just released Arts & Culture, its own native app designed to showcase the treasures cataloged in the Google Cultural Institute. As the Google blurb explains, this allows you to “explore artworks, artifacts, and more from over 850 museums, archives, and organizations worldwide.”

Functionality includes the capacity to “zoom in to view artworks in extraordinary detail; take 360 degree panoramic tours of hundreds of museums, heritage sites, and landmarks; learn about iconic artworks, plus discover hidden gems and the stories behind them in our daily features,” and “explore artworks and more by color and by time period.” So far at least, it only seems to work in portrait mode, but standing your device on end seems a small price to pay for such riches.

The app is already catching some snark that it’s just a 52kb wrapper on Chrome, but I’m not going to be the one to carp. To my mind, it’s the best 52kb you could use. Yes, you can see the same collections on the Google Cultural Institute website, but Arts & Culture does serve these up in a more mobile-friendly format and has enough tweaks to justify that massive 52kb memory overhead. Besides, how many other apps are you using that are essentially browser overlays? I know I’ve at least a couple.

There’s just one drawback – for me, and judging from complaints already on the app review section, by others as well. Android’s location sensitivity renders all of the category headings – though not the picture titles and captions, thank God – into Hungarian. That’s another fix I’ll have to do later. Meantime, the images themselves are just awesome. Install it, and get some culture.


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