The team behind Star Chart, one of the best Windows 8 apps we’ve seen yet, has updated its incredible application that helps you explore the stars and solar system — just in time for Windows 8′s launch next week.
Star Chart caught our eye initially because it lets you explore the night sky and constellations. Even cooler, if you have a Windows 8 tablet, you up a tablet at the sky, and it shows you corresponding stars and constellations. Now the app has been updated with a ton of new 3D content that allows you to explore the solar system with rich depictions of the planets and their moons.
San Shepherd, a director at Star Chart developer Escapist Games, told us the company originally developed Star Chart for platforms iOS, Android, and Windows Phone, but Windows 8 posed some steep challenges.
“Bringing Star Chart to Windows 8 has been a huge investment for our small startup,” Shepherd said via email. “We’ve really had to pull the stops out on quality and consider the implications of large screen formats, various form factors and input devices. Luckily we’re all geeky game developers with experience making AAA console games at places like EA and Codemasters, so it sort of sits in our blood. We talk in shaders and dream in ray-tracing.”
Shepherd says that the most rewarding aspect of the app is making education more fun through technology and connecting parents and their children. He writes:
The best part of making Star Chart is reading reviews from parents who’ve managed to bond with their kids while using the app. Knowing that kids are learning more about the solar system and the stars, while parents are getting to spend some quality time with their kids is simply priceless. We love the idea of parents standing in their gardens at night holding Star Chart up to the sky and pointing out the constellations. It’s what we grew up with, and now its accessible to everyone with an AR-enabled device. It’s like having your own personal Stephen Hawking or Neil deGrasse Tyson by your side.
Star Chart photo: Escapist Games
Like this story? Want to learn more? On April 14-15, our fourth annual VentureBeat Mobile Summit will tackle the eight biggest growth opportunities in mobile today. The invitation-only Summit will gather the top 180 executives at the scenic Cavallo Point Resort in Sausalito, Calif., to discuss issues like this. Request an invitation.