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Moonphases in Your Pocket – iEphemeris for the iPhone & iPod Touch Reviewed

by J.Edwards

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 iEphemeris Screenshots

Up until just recently, setting the current phase of the moon on a client’s watch at work used to involve me referring to a calendar on the wall and then counting off the number of days since the last full or new moon. I would then use this information to set the watch, first to the according full or new moon and then to the current phase by flipping through the appropriate number of days to reach the current day’s state. At one time I had a set of tables that listed the state of the moon for the full year, but the upkeep for that was all to easy to fall out of considering the amount of use I actually got out of it. A quick look-up on the Internet would have been a most welcome improvement, but we don’t have net access in our workshop. So I’ve simply been left longing for the ease with which a couple of keystrokes could so easily render me the appropriate information.

Not content to wait in mild inconvenience any longer, I’ve skipped the keystrokes all together and am basking in the smooth intuitiveness of multitouch technology. This past week I loaded iEphemeris Lite on my iPod Touch, a free application available on the iTunes App Store. With a simple tap of my finger iEphemeris Lite lets me know exactly what phase the moon is currently in, when each of the next four quarters will occur, as well as the current age of the moon. It is a simple, perfect-fit solution for any watchmaker living in the digital age who happens to make daily use of an iPhone or iTouch.

I was so pleased with iEpemeris Lite that I decided to purchase the full version, iEphemeris Pro. To my disappointment, however, I can not say that I was nearly as pleased with the paid-for version as I was with the free version. The additional graphics are lackluster by comparison and the user interface is glitchy at times (it stutters and will sometimes whiplash diagonally instead of straight across when scrolling from screen to screen). My biggest piece of criticism for the full version, though, is how much of a headache it was to set my location in what could have been an effortless configuration using the Core Location services that Apple has built into iPhone and iPod Touch. Granted, GPS localization is available for the iPhone, but any hint of Core Location is entirely absent on the iTouch. I found the settings panel to be altogether unintuitive and felt that it could do with some refining. I am hoping for a more polished update from the developer down the road.

Initial hiccups with the pro version aside, one week into using the application I have to say that I am happy with it. It has been a dream of mine to carry a simple sunrise/sunset reference on my wrist or in my pocket since I was a little tyke and iEphemeris is the first such means I’ve had of making that small dream a reality. The ability to carry a lifetime’s worth of easy to reference, ephemeral information in my pocket for less than the price of a latté is money I consider well spent.

If you’re looking for an lightweight app to track the moon’s phases, picking up a copy of iEphemeris Lite is a no-brainer. 

For more on iEphemeris, check out the developer’s website.

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