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SPQR - Latin app for iPhone & iPad (Review)

 
Wednesday, October 19, 2011, 01:26 - Latin Language, Software
Posted by Administrator
I recently decided to purchase an iPhone app called SPQR. The program is supposed to be a reader for popular Latin texts with English translations, along with Lewis & Short and Whitaker's Words, as well as some other tools. Based on the reviews published on romansgohome.com I fully expected my experience to be equally positive. However, I am saddened to report that most, if not all, expectations for the app have not been met. On the whole, the relatively high price ($5.99) creates a false assumption that the program is both rich in features and these features are well implemented. Perhaps the mere number of features is satisfactory, but as far as implementation goes, there are too many problems. In my opinion, the program is still in beta version. I shall explain.

1. The dictionaries are not integrated with the reader part of the app. I have several decent readers for iOS that allow one to select a word and get its definition, as long as there is a suitable dictionary file. With SPQR one might as well carry a paper dictionary, because there isn't even a way to go back and forth between the reader and any other part of the app.

2. No bookmarks. One must physically scroll down to get to where they were.

3. The translations are not line by line. Instead, if one clicks on the "Translate" button the program displays the very beginning of the section. Lets say, one is reading Aeneid 1.459 and wants to see the translation. Good news, the first line of the translation is just a click away! Worst of all, if you click on the same button again to return to Latin you will discover that you have now lost your place in the book. It's going to be Arma virumque ad nauseam.

4. The texts used for the app appear to be substandard. Virgil failed my usual test for classroom usability. Eclogue 9.39 reads "Huc ades, o Galarea" instead of "huc ades, o Galatea." This text is not what students ever see in their OCT, Teubner, Loeb -- what have you. It is simply one of those texts that float around on the Internet. The need to seriously address the lack of good public domain texts has so far prevented me personally from compiling a library of portable Latin classics.

5. It is impossible to import books in ePub or any other format.

6. In my personal opinion, Latin texts are best displayed in a format that resembles Bible readers. Classicists like to look up lines and verses.

As it stands now, I have payed six dollars for an app that is not even usable. I could simply download a bunch of public domain ePubs on my iPhone and get all the benefits of well designed free book readers (I already have a L&S app). It would be great to find out that a new version of the program will be released soon, and that all necessary features will have been implemented, and then some. So far, it looks like this time around the Romans really did go home. If you intend to help out the developer of SPQR, go ahead, but if you are saving your lunch money for a quality app, I would not recommend this one.

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