Tuesday, April 10, 2018

App Review: the Offline Survival Manual

I'm not normally known as the tech guy around here, but I do know my way around electronic hardware. We've talked about preparedness apps and books before, and now I want to look at one I've been poking around at for a couple months: the Offline Survival Manual.

This app is based upon the Army FM 3-05.70 Field Manual. It formats the manual in a searchable wiki design, with a sidebar that lets you navigate to information by topic. The wiki format also makes it easy to update the data as new techniques or topics become relevant. Each segment contains a header that introduces the topic and its relevance with a bit of background. Since it is based on an Army manual, most of the data is about wilderness survival but the basic principles apply on a wider scale.

The format and color palette are clean and streamlined, and the uncluttered look and good contrast make for easy, painless reading. A widely adjustable font is great for folks with impaired vision, and a night mode (with an optional automatic setting) relieves eye strain in dark environments.

One very nice feature is that the entire manual is downloaded to your device, so no network access is needed to use the data in the app. One of the first topics addressed is power, so that you can keep your device powered up and providing information.

When specific products or outside topics are mentioned, a link is often provided. If you're reading in preparation for emergencies instead of during them, this makes a handy way to expand your learning or pick up needed supplies.

The biggest drawback to this app is that is has no illustrations, and it would be far more useful if it did. The developer is aware of this and claims to be working towards it. A second, more personal complaint is that I really hate reading on my phone. This ceases to be an issue on a tablet, but my phone is the device that is always with me, so that's where the data will be most available to me.

The Offline Survival Manual is free in the Google Play store. A similar app can be found for Apple products in the iTunes store.


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