As part of the Diana and Callisto public engagement programme National Galleries of Scotland committed to produce a Titian app to be released late-2013. The main project aims were:
• To provide greater roaming and remote digital access to Titian’s Diana and Callisto and Diana and Actaeon
• To encourage new and existing audiences to appreciate and develop their understanding of the two Titian paintings through a range of interpretive content
The central idea was to create an app delivers information intuitively and feels like an immersive multi-sensory experience rather than simply an information store. We found that our aims could be met while staying within the small budget by tapping into existing functionality within iOS 7, which was not publicly released until the tail end of the technical development process.
The extensive interpretive content within the app is targeted at a broad audience, in terms of interest, previous exposure to the works, and ability. A balanced mix of text, image and audio means there is something for everyone, and the use of acted recreated historical scenes commissioned and produced specifically for the app alongside curatorial and academic spoken word content reinforces this.This involved the project team working with a range of external content professionals we had not worked with before, including script writers, actors, sound stage production facilities, sound recordists, audio and sound effect libraries.
We set out early on in the project definition phase to keep the final app file size to a minimum in order to encourage greater uptake, while producing an app which was truly standalone rather than requiring internet access in order to deliver any of the content. Through an iterative content development process and significant effort on the technical framework side we succeeded in halving the total app file size in the last sprint of development, while keeping all the content at full resolution and acceptable compression levels and not impacting on the user experience.
The app is Universal, adapting to either iPhone or iPad (portrait and landscape orientation) devices, and makes extensive use of iOS 7 accessibility features including voice over functionality and flexible text resizing, making it the most accessible mobile app we have been able to produce to date by a large margin.
The app is tightly integrated with iOS 7 accessibility technology, including text size and VoiceOver screen reader functionality, meaning that the app is usable for people with a variety of abilities and competencies. The app supports multi-touch gestures but is completely usable using simple touch gestures. All the spoken word audio content has a transcript.
Titian & Diana launched publicly on the iTunes App Store on 11th December 2013, and has been downloaded over 500 times up to 13th February 2014. In-app analytics data suggests that user engagement is very high, at roughly 9 screens per session on average, which suggests that users of the app are really digging down into the deeper parts of the app as we had hoped.
The forthcoming exhibition ‘Titian and the Golden Age of Venetian Art’ will prominently feature two mounted iPads dedicated to showing the Titian & Diana app in close proximity to the works themselves.