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Magic Window creates living photo art piece


Most iPad applications create a way for you to interact directly with your device via the human touch. Magic Window is not most applications. A $3.99 iPad application, Magic Window works when you put the device down. It transforms your iPad into a living photo art piece, creating a real-time window onto a virtual world. As the video here shows, you can select from fifteen pre-built time lapse experiences to display while your iPad rests on its stand.

Photo sequences include both natural and urban viewscapes. You can watch sunset over the Pacific, clouds drifting over Vancouver city, sunset in Santa Barbara, and more. A subtle audio track accompanies each presentation. Most of the sequences ship in a stripped-down "sample size" version. You need to have access to a Wi-Fi connection to download the full image sequence to your iPad.

The quality of each selection varies. I wasn't a big fan of the "Fire" sequence. It provides a time lapse fire rather than a real fire simulation. I also didn't care for the New Zealand Glacier. Its inconsistent lighting of foreground elements produces an unpleasant flicker out of the corner of your eye while running the program on a nearby iPad. I much preferred the various sunset options, all of which were quite beautiful.

I had the chance recently to talk with Magic Window programmer Josh Michaels, an independent developer based out of San Francisco. He explained that each image sequence consists of thousands of individual photos taken by time lapse photographers, and are composed by the application in real time. The audio sequences are recorded separately, from completely independent sources, and linked together as the application runs.

Michaels told me that he was currently working on expanding the sequence library. "Our number one request," Michaels said "is for an aquarium scene." I agree. An aquarium sequence with real time action (not just time lapse) would be a real selling feature for the application.

Michaels stated that he's also trying to extend widgets beyond the on-screen clock and date display. He hopes to augment the amount of ambient information presented on-screen without losing the overall application aesthetics. He assured me that no matter what widgets are added that the application focus will "remain on the scenery and ambiance without detracting from the beauty."

That's important because Magic Window's entire raison d'etre is its beauty. It brings a lovely-to-glance-at aesthetic to your otherwise idle iPad, while making sure that the onboard clock is always displayed and useful.

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