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Windy is a pretty, relaxing app for iPhone and iPad

Windy for iPhone and iPadWindy (US$2.99, universal) is a relaxation app for the iPhone and iPad. It's from the people behind Thunderspace, which I love. Both apps offer compelling "3D audio," which adds directionality to the sounds you hear. That is to say, raindrops hitting a roof overhead sounds like it's overhead. The experience is very effective.

Windy builds on the stereoscopic sound and adds beautiful visuals in the form of immensely detailed parallax-enabled images, as well as a story that moves you between scenes. I spent some time with Windy and found it relaxing and well, interesting.

The story

Windy begins with the eponymous lead character. She's traveling from the noise pollution of the city to find a more peaceful existence. She walks to a less populated rural street on a cold, December evening. From there she travels to a mountaintop where she enjoys the scenery, pitches a tent and falls asleep. I won't spoil the whole adventure for you, but there are six chapters in all.

There's a leaf icon in the upper right. Tap it to read a chapter's text, then tap it again to dismiss.

The art

This app is so beautiful it's not funny. Each chapter features a unique image that makes tremendous use of the parallax effect. Each scene has many, many layers that give a very real sense of depth. It's a lot of fun to tilt the phone or iPad back and forth to "see what you can see." Each scene has its own color palette, too, so you are't stuck with the same browns or greens, for example. I felt encouraged to slow down and explore the six scenes carefully.

The audio

Having used Thunderspace previously, I expected a good audio experience and I got one. Wind "moves" from left to right, right to left, hovers overhead. Sometimes a gust seems far away to the right, other times it's whipping just overhead. It's cool that you can often hear what the wind is carrying, too. In the first chapter, sleet can be heard bouncing around. In chapter two, leaves rustle and fly into one another. Sit back, close your eyes and relax...and for goodness sake, use headphones.

The guilt

Guilt? Yes, guilt. After exploring each chapter's images until I was satisfied, I found I was ignoring them. I felt badly about this, as it's clear that a huge amount of time, effort and -- I assume -- money went into Windy's art. Yes, the experience is enhanced by looking and listening simultaneously, but I enjoyed listening while working, which meant I wasn't looking at the great images.

Overall, I like Windy. It's relaxing and beautiful. Windy has no in-app purchases, but you can unlock certain features by basically promoting the app. For example, if you "like" Windy on Facebook, glowing fireflies are added to one of the scenes. Likewise, you can get a squirrel if you sign up for the mail list. Failing to do so doesn't detract from the experience, but it adds a bit of fun if you do.

Go and grab Windy to enjoy the sound, art and story. It's a fun one.

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