I was very interested when I saw the description of this app while browsing the app store one day. Have you ever gone to a country, finding yourself wanting to know certain cultural information about it? For me, personally, it is a clear yes.
What I am most interested in knowing about when I visit a new country is what not to say or do, the most common way to greet people, how tipping works and where/if you give tips and also any special laws you should be aware of. Here is where Cultures come into play.
Cultures is definitely not one of the best apps in terms of design but on a positive note, it mostly follows the Apple UI, which is again at least a bonus.
I am however slightly annoyed at the way they are displaying the content. After tapping and choosing your country and the type of culture you wish to view (which is sadly put on top of a background image of the world) you get a screen where you have the text, inside a fixed height box, semi-transparent on top of that same background image. Please, just stick to the UI guidelines, it looks much nicer and helps me read much faster.
A final little critique would be the fully incoherent “More” tab. Usually, and you all know this, when you click on the more tab, you expect a list of other items that you can swap out in the tab bar (like in the iPod app). In Cultures however, you get a list of other apps by the developer, in a very messy UI.
Let’s press on to the content and the reason why you download this free app. After selecting your country, you are presented with a variety of types to view: Greetings, Communication Style, Personal Space & Touching, Eye Contact, Views of Time, Gender Issues, Gestures, Taboos and Law & Order.
Some of these I enjoy, while I still wonder why some of them are there. Perhaps that is just me? As I wrote at the top, some top ones for me, that I want to know about when I visit a country is: Tipping, Driving rules, Greetings, Laws.
If you are fast to recall, you will see that on my list, Cultures has got two out of four as of this time. Sadly, it is the two that I do not worry about just as much. Please do add tipping and driving to the app and some more useful law and order information. I do not rank the views on drugs as something I worry about.
Finally, I should note that not all of the categories actually have content in all of the countries.
Cultures does have phrases too and I want to make a full disclosure right here, before the summary. I have not tested out this functionality of the app, simply because it is an in-app purchase of $2.99. Sorry, to me the app is not good enough to persuade me to buy this.
It is a free app. If you travel much or just visit the occasional new country (which I bet happens more often here in Europe than in the United States), Cultures is an app that I would definitely keep on my phone when I do, again, it is free.
There are a number of enhancements that I want to see before giving this a higher rating than I am going to give it today. First off, the user interface needs to improve and secondly, the content needs to increase in quality and amount, giving some more meaningful cultures to us readers.