September 1, 2012 (Vol. 32, No. 15)
Strong Points: Graphics load quickly, different levels of text
Weak Points: A comparison feature among cells would be nice
Looking for a fun way to explore animal, bacteria, and plant cells in all of their three-dimensional glory? Search no further than the free iCell app by the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology. This app is incredibly easy to use (and is easy on the eyes), with users simply selecting the type of cell that they wish to view (animal, plant, or bacteria) from the home screen. From there, users can drag, enlarge/shrink, and rotate the cell with their fingers and can tap on specific cellular features for a description. A nice feature of the app is that the text explanations come in three varieties: basic, intermediate, and advanced. For instance, while the “basic” explanation of the nucleus simply states that “the nucleus holds the genetic information (DNA) for the cell”, the “advanced” version introduces concepts such as nuclear envelope and histones.