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TUAW Exclusive: Darkness 2.0 First Look

Bjango, developer of the awesome iStat for iPhone, is readying the next version of one of its most successful iPhone apps, Darkness (iTunes link). TUAW got a chance to play with Darkness 2.0, which should be hitting the App Store in the next couple of days, and we explored what is new and improved.

Darkness is a world clock on steroids. Not only does it give you the current time for pretty much any city in the world, it also lets you know what time the sun rises and sets, alongside other specific information such as the the phase of the moon.

Darkness 2.0 is a complete rewrite, sporting a new interface and some enhanced features. For photographers, Darkness is a really, really useful tool because it tells you where the sun or moon will be at any given time. you can also find out the exact time that solar noon (the time of day when the sun appears its highest) will occur in your location, so you can help plan for the best time to take certain shots.

World Clock

Darkness offers up a nice way to quickly glance at what time it is in various places all over the world. Sure, the built in World Clock can do the same thing, but Darkness gives you more accessible information (the day for instance) and can access your current location, which is great if you happen to be traveling across timezones.

You can also easily choose to view the time in military or 12-hour intervals, and tell at a glance at what time sunrise and sunset is in any given city. You can add your own city from Bjango's large database (more than 8500 cities) or you can enter in your exact coordinates if you live off the grid or something.



Moon Phases

I remember having to do those stupid moon-phase charts in middle school and high school, tracking what the phase of the moon was each night and then drawing a corresponding picture to go along in the little chart. It was one of those tasks that just struck me as insipid and without merit, so I generally either cheated out of the Farmer's Almanac or the weather section in the local paper. Today's kids have it even easier -- they can use Darkness to do their moon charts.

Darkness will show you the current phase of the moon and the next 8 phases. So at a glance, you can see the next full moon, new moon and quarter moon dates. You can also select a date in the past or present and notate the moon data (and sunrise/sunset data) for those dates as well.

And while it probably isn't a bad idea for kids to actually learn what the different phases of the moon are and why they behave the way they do, it's pretty nice to have the information handy as an adult.

Back to the Future

The aspect of Darkness 2.0 that I had the most fun with was the ability to check out sun and moon information for dates in the future. I input November 12, 2009 and set the time to 10:35 AM (my 27th birthday) and I was able to view exactly where the sun would be and what phase the moon will be in in approximately 7 months. Neat. You can go back in time too, though only through the current calendar year. Again, this is really, really useful for cheating on that stupid geography homework.

All in all, Darkness 2.0 sports a great interface, some genuinely useful information about sun and moon positions and offers up a great world clock. The new version is a big step-up from version 1.2 and should really appeal to photographers, amateur astronomers and people who make lots of international calls. It's also a great cheating study aid.

Darkness 2.0 (iTunes link) is $1.99US and should be available in the App Store later this week.

Check out the gallery to get a glimpse of the app in action!

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