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September 28, 2013

Texas history — there’s an app for that

Austin-based company offers smartphone app to locate landmarks

By TAMMYE NASH | Lone Star News Group

These days, there is a smartphone app for just about everything. If you are traveling, the right smartphone app can make all the difference in the world.

There are apps to help you find restaurants or restrooms, translate languages and calculate currency exchange rates, among others. Now, Texas history buffs have one more tool to add to their app arsenal to help them plan the perfect vacation.

Austin-based mobile solutions company Atomic Axis offers the Texas Historical Landmarks app that features a database of more than 14,000 state landmarks and helps the user locate and keep track of what each marker commemorates. Users can also create a favorites list.

The app’s mobile interface lets users see the landmarks within a map, include personal notes about landmarks and more. Users can also check in on the app when they visit landmarks, earning points toward the title of Texas’ biggest history buff.

The app is available through the Apple App Store and is optimized for iPhone 5. The app, which requires iOS 6 or later to operate, has an App Store rating of 4-plus.

The full app costs $3.99, but a free version is also available. The free version, however, includes far fewer of the registered historic landmarks.

As of Jan. 1, there were 15,828 historical markers in Texas, according to the Texas Historical Commission's website.

“My phone is so old, apps won’t even work on it,” Wilma Reed, Johnson County Historical Commission chair, said with a laugh. “I have a GoPhone, because I only use it when I travel, and every time I take it in for them to [add minutes], they look at it and say, ‘Oh, this is an old one, isn’t it.’”

For those who have smartphones, the app would likely be “very convenient for anyone doing historical research,” Reed said. “Of course, you can always go to the Texas Historical Commission website and look up all the information on every marker anywhere in the state.

“But if you are traveling, or just out driving around, and you want to see what markers are nearby, something like [the Texas Historic Landmark app] would be wonderful.”Atomic Axis also offers the California Historical Landmarks app and is developing the Virginia Historical Landmarks app.

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