Developer Mark Hambly has created a free NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day app that takes advantage of the new widgets feature in iOS 14 to add a bit of astrophotography inspiration to your iPhone’s home screen every day.
For those of you who are unfamiliar, NASA’s Astronomy Photo of the Day (APOD) is a popular website that, as the name suggests, shares a different celestial image each day. Sometimes the photos come from NASA’s archives, other times they’re captured by individual photographers from around the globe, and once in a while NASA will use the site to share something new and exciting that was just beamed back to Earth from one of its spacecraft.
Whatever they share, it’s usually quite spectacular, and many astrophotography and astronomy fans visit APOD regularly to get their dose of inspiration and awe. For example, here was the photo posted on October 5th: an image of galaxy NGC 5643 as captured by the Hubble space telescope.
Hambly was apparently inspired by the latest version of the iOS Reddit client Apollo, which allows him to load images from r/astrophotography into a dedicated widget on his home screen.
“That led me to looking for an APOD (Astronomy Picture of the Day) widget,” explains Hambly on Reddit. “While there are plenty of great, free APOD apps, none have widgets yet. So I had a little personal hackathon over a few evenings this past week and I’m pretty pleased with where I ended up! Planning on some updates soon to improve it.”
The app is “free and ad free forever” says Hambly, since he has another job that pays the bills. This was just a fun side-project that could bring some enjoyment to astrophotography fans everywhere. Once installed, you can choose between a “Today Widget” that shows today’s APOD, a “Random Widget” that shows a random entry, and a “Favorites Widget” that shows APODs that you’ve identified as “favorites” through the app’s built-in browsing feature.
To download and try the app for yourself, head over to the iOS App store. As mentioned, the app is both free and ad free, but if you really love it you can buy Hambly a coffee ($2.99) through the Settings tab, or send feedback to ensure the app keeps improving.