Mi Modern Architecture MIMOA [iTunes Link] is the iPhone version of the fantastic architecture discovery service with a large and free online database designed Dutch studio Mapps and supported by IPMMC. The idea came from two architects who wanted to be able to find new buildings efficiently and created this online guide for everyone to contribute.
The service, as niche as ti might be, is a fantastic alternative to other books or compendiums that architecture freaks like me collect. If you haven't heard of the website, don't worry. I have started discovering new buildings through the iPhone app, anytime anywhere. There are myriad of location based apps out there that might allow you to access information in a similar fashion. Options like the Lonely Planet City guides or the most recent Museum of London just to name two, but they're obviously limited to certain city or country.
The beauty of MIMOA lays on the international side of it, being European entries prominently featured, but hoping that the use of the app on mobile devices will help to boost the amount of projects in other continents.
MIMOA uses core location services to position yourself in a map and pull from the app itself the info of the buildings around you. This is definitely a killer features since allow you to browse tons of content without an internet connection i.e. when you travel and don't want to pay the abusive roaming tariffs. The entries can be displayed on a list for easy reading or on a map, to actually locate and visit the site without getting lost. Every building contains the full address, a short well written description that will give you a bit of background, facts like completion date and the architect behind it.
I have been pleasantly surprised by the amount of constructions included here, some of which, I thought were small hidden jewels. Not anymore.
If you just simply want to browse MIMOA´s database you can look up references filtering them by location, construction type, function, public/non-public and designer. It just makes sense to be see the results on a map and see how they relate to each other and how they impact on other projects in the area. Hands-on video after the break!
There are some issues that are currently being addressed in the latest update. At launch, specially the first time, it's going to take a loooong time. You have to be patient and wait for the badge asking you to allow to share your iPhone location. Once you get there, next time will start in a snap. I suspect the app downloads updates when it says "Loading…" but this is just my guess. The first screen also greets you with a list of buildings from Amsterdam; I'm not sure wether this is a feature or a bug, but it has identified my location in subsequent uses.
The interface its nice but there is a lot of room for improvement. While the building pictures are excellent, they don't slide as well as on the native Photos app. The UI might not be as user-friendly as some users would think. The navigation bar (on the top) has a location button that will bring up a menu asking you to type a city name to search. Although it's not mentioned in Apple's guides, that button is to use your iPhone's compass when seeing a map. Slightly confusing when on the right corner you have a control that says "Map."
Accessing a small wikipedia of Modern Architecture with no need to have Internet connection is a real treat for anyone who loves discovering new buildings.
Using the Mac OS's "Quick View" icon isn't the best choice either, but is nothing you can get used to. However, many will notice the UI inconsistencies. I really hope the keep updating MIMOA as they have done, refining the user experience and allowing people to contribute with their ideas. I would specially like the ability to create entries from the iPhone and also to send in pictures. Including a web navigation view could be nice since many entries have a link to the project website, but launch Safari, and the same could go for map routes.
For the price asked, accessing a small wikipedia of Modern Architecture is a real treat for anyone with interest in the topic will love it. Despite being made by architects for architects, the language used in the descriptions is accessible enough for people like me. If you have stopped to take a picture of a new cool building with your iPhone, this app is a priceless companion.