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10 culture-oriented appsthat are worth installing on your phone in 2021

In a world of mobile apps, everything changes from week to week – some apps disappear forever (like Art Sherlock or Vine) and thousands of new ones, eager for fame and installation, take their place.

You can still find apps that have existed since almost the dawn of app stores. Apps that are still being updated and further developed, and offer their users upgraded or brand new features.

So how does the landscape of culture-oriented apps look like this year? Which apps are worth your time and the precious space on your mobile phone?

Below, we present our list of the 10 most interesting culture-oriented mobile apps currently. There is something for fans of visual arts, music, literature, and… wine culture.

  1. Google Arts & Culture

An app that, since its creation in 2016, opens practically every list like this one given its great performance and interesting content. We could not have left it out. 

Why is it better to download it instead of visiting the website of the project? Good mobile apps (this being one of them) offer features that are difficult to achieve with a web technology, features that are based on the specificity of mobile devices. That’s also the case here: in a mobile app, besides the access to thousands of paintings, photos, and objects from 2000 cultural institutions all over the world (also in 360° view) and the ability to watch them in spectacular detail, you can:

  • Find portraits similar to your selfies thanks to the use of a facial recognition system (Art Selfie Feature)
  • Find art pieces through favourite colours (Colour Palette Feature)
  • Hang your favourite painting on a wall in your flat thanks to the use of augmented reality (Art Projector Feature)

The app is available for free on Google Play and App Store.

  1. Daily Art by Moiseum

One of the oldest culture-oriented apps (it’s nine years old!). This Polish app has gained recognition of the English speaking users and has been downloaded over one million times, which, in the world of culture-oriented mobile apps, is an impressive number. The app allows for an everyday contact with art – after installing it, every day you get to see and read about inspiring works of art from the collections of the biggest museums in the world. It’s worth adding, that the app is available in 16 languages.

The app is available for free on Google Play and App Store.

  1. Acute Art

A noteworthy, further developed app for the fans of contemporary art. It includes interactive installations of famous artists, such as Marina Abramović, Olafur Eliasson, Anish Kapoor, or Jeff Koons, that were prepared exclusively for this app and are not available anywhere else. The installations can be experienced as a 360° video when you move your phone around your own axis or, with the use of Google Cardboard, as a VR. There are additional interesting materials available in the app – descriptions of installations and interviews with artists.

The app is available for free on Google Play and App Store.

  1. Sol.AR.is

Patch Lab is an international festival of digital art, and the Photon Foundation, which is its organiser, also helps to design and produce experimental projects that use the new media. One of those art projects is the mobile app Sol.AR.is created with artists from Germany, Japan, Hungary, Iran, and New Zealand. The abstract 3D objects inspired by the intelligent ocean from the famous work of Stanisław Lem can be viewed in your surroundings thanks to the AR technology and your phone’s built-in camera.

The app is available for free on Google Play and App Store.

To read more on the app visit Patch Lab’s website: https://fundacjaphoton.pl/dzialalnosc-activities/sol-ar-is-br-mobile-art-app/

  1. Google Lens

The pandemic is slowly going away and we are going out into the world yet again. The Google Lens app will help you discover and learn more about the architectural and cultural objects and other works of art all around the world thanks to the technology of image recognition and AI. It will also help to identify animal and plant species if you decide to venture out into the wild. Once abroad, Google Lens will read and translate signs, information, and texts that you’ll find on your way.

The app is available for free on Google Play and App Store.

  1. Instagram

For a couple of years now, Instagram has been not just for photos from vacations abroad and different types of selfies but also an opportunity to be up to date with artists, art galleries, and museums. Instagram is also a new medium with which artists are experimenting with. From creating pictures only for that medium according to its specificity (@joelguzmanart, @jessaaudreylynn), to filter art (@exitsimlation, @ines.alpha), to experimenting with new, digital and interactive narration, one being The Portal Diaries by the famous duo – The Kissinger Twins. After the Webby Awards winning Sufferosa, the Polish artists prepared a multimedia story about the future of us, the people, the AI, our planet, and the climate.

The Instagram app is available for free on Google Play and App Store.

  1. TikTok

This list cannot leave out TikTok – the biggest hit and phenomenon of the last dozen or so months. After receiving some bad press because of the developer’s country (China) and the doubts as to the limit of data collected by the app, which few remember today, TikTok became one of the windows into the world of art and culture, as well as a field for experimental short films, during the times of the pandemic.

One of the most interesting cultural events initiated by TikTok was the first worldwide live museum marathon, that took place in May of this year to celebrate the international museum day. It was attended by institutions from such countries as Great Britain, the United States, the Netherlands, Germany, and Poland. During this event, there was also a premiere of Versailles Run filter that was used in the last weeks’ viral videos (#MuseumMoment).

More cultural variety on TikTok can be found under the hashtags: #FineArt, #ArtHistory, #ArtOnTikTok.

The app is available for free on Google Play and App Store but if you’d rather not install it on your phone due to security concerns, you can visit its website: www.tiktok.com 

  1. Steve Reich’s Clapping Music

Music lovers may be interested in the musical mobile game, thanks to which they can learn more about a work composed in 1972 by of one of the biggest modern composers – Steve Reich. The game involves repeating the changing rhythmic patterns on different difficulty levels and, as can be easily guessed, developing a sense of rhythm.

The app is available for free on App Store.

Similar apps worth checking out are Third Coast Percussion: the Music of Steve Reich or 4’ 33” – John Cage.

  1. Arcadia by Iain Pears

The book Arkadia, written by a famous British writer and journalist, Iain Pears, can now be read in a mobile app format and its narrative can be co-created by following the chosen threads of this multilayered story or its most intriguing characters. The interactive map will be your guide and it will lead you through the world created by the author.

The lite version of the app is available for free on the App Store, while the access to the entire novel can be bought for $3.99.

  1. Vivino: Buy the Right Wine

Culture and art go well with wine – every attendee of art and cultural events, both online and offline, knows this. That is why our list ends with an app that makes it easier to learn more about over 4500 years of wine history and culture – Vivino. The app will help to learn more about different kinds of wine, to choose the right one for your meal at home or at a restaurant, it will describe the wine’s taste and bouquet after you’ll scan the bottle’s label before buying it, and it will also recommend the right product based on your taste preferences.

The app is available for free on Google Play and App Store.

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About The Author

Sylwia
Żółkiewska

Visual artist, designer, and creative manager. She writes about how new technologies can be used to promote knowledge and an appreciation of art, deepen users’ understanding of culture, facilitate education, and streamline business activities.

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