A dose of history can’t hurt around Independence Day, and application makers have stepped up with mildly successful attempts to remind Americans why they’ll be celebrating the Fourth of July.
• United States History, by MTC Apps for Android devices, is free (it has advertising support) and has a home page that organizes topics under headings that include the Constitution, important dates, documents, and speeches.
The Federalist Papers section has the full text of the famous arguments by Alexander Hamilton, John Jay and James Madison on behalf of the Constitution.
A “Did You know?” space at the bottom of the home screen displays random history entries, such as one-paragraph descriptions of Ulysses S. Grant, and the Zamboni machine (invented in California).
• U.S. Pocket Reference, $1.99 from Double Dog Studios, is a package of historical documents and narratives on the branches of the federal government and their various agencies.
Once open on iPhone, tap the screen to show navigation tools.
Document texts include the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, excerpts from the Federalist Papersand key Supreme Court decisions such as Marbury v. Madison, which in 1803 helped establish the high court’s authority, and the landmark 1954 civil-rights case, Brown v. Board of Education.
A lengthy “Test Yourself” section helps you remember the original colonies, the many wars and why we revere the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Susan B. Anthony.
• An app called iUSA, from USAInteractive, is 99 cents for iPhone. It attempts to organize thousands of Wikipedia entries and government Web pages into a U.S. history guide. choppy to explore. Navigation help is a row of icons at the bottom of the screen for history, the White House, Congress and government.
In the history area, you choose either a list of the states or of the presidents. That’s all, though once you get to a Wikipedia page, you can search more widely.
• AP U.S. History, from Simple Tree LLC, is free for iPhone. The advertising-supported app is billed as a study aid, but it has no official connection to the advanced-placement tests by the College Entrance Examination Board.
The app makes for a sketchy review of America from its founding, with no narrative history. A search for the inconclusive War of 1812 produced three short entries – on the Battle of Tippecanoe, the Hartford Convention and the Treaty of Ghent.