There’s no shortage of commemorations marking this year’s 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, but if you’re looking to really experience the historic moments when the Eagle landed and mankind took its giant leap forward, the best option may be available for your smartphone. Working in collaboration with Industrial Light and Magic and the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, Time today released Landing on the Moon, an “AR experience” that lets you experience the landing from multiple perspectives, including the Eagle’s cockpit and the moon’s surface, in real time.
The uniting concept behind Landing on the Moon’s presentation of the Apollo 11 mission is a chronological timeline that continuously plays narrative details and original audio recordings from the event regardless of the perspective you choose. Using augmented reality, you can place a miniature version of the moon’s surface on a table or floor to watch the landing from afar, then dynamically toggle inside and outside the cockpit as the Eagle makes its approach.
Apollo 11’s landing is animated to show the spaceship kicking up dust on the lunar surface, as well as Neil Armstrong’s historic disembarkation, complete with live audio as everything happens. You can shift backward and forward on the timeline by scrolling upward and downward on the right side of the screen.
As AR experiences go, Landing on the Moon is a lot more compelling than most of its peers, in part because of the significant levels of visual and audio detail it evokes from the event. Time notes that the historically accurate 3D assets were painstakingly created over a 20-year period by ILM chief creative officer John Knoll, with the scientifically accurate 3D engine coming from Trigger, spatial sound from Ryot, and audio samples coming from Time and the Smithsonian.
Assets aside, the app also meaningfully uses AR to provide multiple viewpoints for its story. Being able to see a fairly convincing version of the landing from a first-person perspective through the screen of a smartphone is pretty cool, though ideally, the AR experience would be optimized for larger tablet displays as well. In the future, Time suggests that the app will support VR functionality through standalone headsets and smartphones.
Landing on the Moon is available now as a free download inside the new Time Immersive app, which launched today in the iOS App Store. The app is optimized for iPhones but runs in a window on iPads. Time says that an Android version of the app is “coming soon,” and offers a web-based version for devices with AR-ready cameras.