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Remembering 9/11 via the iPad

The 10th anniversary of 9/11 is this Sunday. An iPad app called 911 Memorial: Past, Present and Future provides an intimate look at the Twin Towers with dozens of videos and hundreds of photos.

Matt Elliott/CNET

This post is more of a heads-up than how-to. If the approaching 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks has put you in a reflective mood, there is a wonderful iPad app that provides a retrospective of the World Trade Center, a look at the projects occurring at the site today, and a look to what the future holds for the National 9/11 Memorial and Museum. The app, The 911 Memorial: Past, Present and Future, is free, though only for a limited time.

The app was created by Steven Rosenbaum, the filmmaker behind 7 Days in September, a documentary about the attacks and the week that followed. He collected hundreds of hours of film footage from professionals and amateurs for his film. Some of this footage made its way to the app, along with hundreds of photographs. The videos present a much more intimate story than what I remember from that day, as I watched it unfold on TV 3,000 miles away. There are no talking heads here, just footage as the attacks occurred, informal interviews with the architects and engineers that are rebuilding the site, and archival footage of the construction of the Twin Towers.

Matt Elliott/CNET

The app is organized into The Past, The Present, and The Future sections. Tapping on each section brings you to the photos and videos around that topic, with supporting text providing some context. The largest section is The Present, where you can discover the various projects going on at the site and the people behind them. A fourth section, Gallery, takes you to the same content included in the other sections, but divides them into image and video galleries. There is also a timeline of events, but it hasn't worked since I installed the app.

According to Rosenbaum, the app includes:

  • More than 40 videos, over an hour of original content, site tours, museum updates, and animations

  • Over 400 high-resolution photographs, including large artifacts at Hanger 17, rare site construction images, and the landscaping of an urban forest with 400 white swamp oak trees

  • Never-before-seen video of the attacks on the World Trade Center

  • Exclusive interview with the creator of the Memorial, along with his sketches and photographs

The app makes great use of the iPad. The raw footage in the video combined with the touch screen and the organization of the material that promotes self direction and exploration makes the experience feel very personal. If you don't want to see any more photos or videos of the attacks, you can simply ignore The Past section and explore the Present and Future sections, for example.

The 911 Memorial: Past, Present and Future is a great iPad app, and a great way to remember September 11. Get it before Monday; it will be free for only a limited time. The price will reportedly jump to $9.99 on September 12.