Gravilux offers New Age Etch-a-Sketch

The bottom line on Gravilux is that you’re either going to love it, or think it’s a huge waste of time. It doesn’t do anything but allow you to generate particle-based animations. So grab your crystals and incense, and load Kitaro on your iPod.

In addition, I discuss memory tricks associated with aging, a series of B-movies of no consequence whatsoever, crappy but popular beer and link shallow concepts of art criticism to tax reform.

Art instamatic

Carol and I were watching Tremors 2 for about the twelfth time on Netflix instant movies the night we downloaded our upgrades to Gravilux. Since then we have been unable to call the app by any name but Graboids.

It’s an unfair comparison. Gravilux is an elegant app that generates art at your fingertips. Graboids are ugly scaly creatures that rise up from the earth and kill you, but only after giving birth to scaly turkey lizards that fly and breathe fire and eat all the survivors.

But once you pass fifty, and those Alzheimer’s molecules start looking for neurons to attach themselves to suck your knowledge, you realize that more and more you confuse things just because they start with the same couple of consonants.

Just as an example, I drank a bottle of President Lite over the 4th of July weekend and found myself thinking, I voted for Nader, why am I drinking this? Besides the Lite brew is a lightweight compared to President, Sr., who was smart enough to pull the franchise from Iraq because they don’t like American beer.

Fortunately, Carol saw what I was drinking and gave me bottle of Thelonius Monk stout which set me thinking straight again.

I think.

Back to Graboids. If you’ve been keeping up with this blog, you know the one comment I probably find to be the most obnoxious in the world is “My three year old can do that.” With Graboids, I mean Gravilux, your three year old can do that, providing you’re willing to let her play with something as expensive as an iPad. My son’s thirty and I don’t let him near my iPad. But, if you were to let your three year old play with Gravilux on the iPad, she could, indeed do that.

In this case, I don’t mean the statement as a criticism. Your three year old can do this only because the developer, Scott Sona Snibe, spent years developing and perfecting the app for use with a number of operating systems. Basically Gravilux opens to a screen of points. Using your finger as a paintbrush, you swipe the screen to create a fractal-like series of iterations that cause the grid to evolve much the way particle storms and even star system evolve over time.

Zen garden art

Like Bloom HD, Gravilux is a self-generating art program. You don’t create the art, the software does. So don’t think you will paint like Rembrandt; more like Jackson Pollock on an Etch-a-Sketch. This means that culture snobs—those elitists who take great pride in their lack of culture and learning—aren’t going to see the point of this any more than they might see the point of a Mondrian.

But culture snobs are snobbish about a lot of things, I’m discovering. For instance, culture snobs are often tax snobs. They turn their noses up at the thought of paying taxes for the highways poor people drive on because they can’t afford the tollway like the tax snobs. Or from paying taxes for people who can’t afford a private security force in their gated communities.

What I find even more interesting is that poor people who need those highways and police and schools because they can’t afford to pay for their own are tax snobs too. Maybe if they tried to understand art a little more, they might understand that the reason schools suck, the police avoid their neighborhoods and the roads still need repair is because they don’t want to pay for them.

So readers will either want to try Gravilux, or think it’s a waste of time. And the good news is, I’ve given them a litmus test that’s better than a review as way to decide if they’re likely to enjoy it.

Here’s another test:

Imagine you came into a room and found a tray filled with marbles. The marbles were lined up in perfectly even rows and columns. You can roll the marbles with your fingers and watch them bounce into each other and off the sides of the tray. Now imagine they operate according to gravitational forces. And that the marbles reset themselves for you.

If you’re thinking, “that could be fun,” then you’ll probably enjoy Gravilux. You have a playful imagination and an appreciation for abstract art.1 If you’re thinking, “that’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard,” read no further.

See how easy that was?

Playing with Gravilux is even easier.

Open Gravilux to find points on a uniform grid

Drag any point in any direction to watch the screen explode

Experiment to your heart’s desire

Just in case you get bored with the dots that are dealt you, Gravilux gives you plenty of options to customize your experience. You can have the dots blow toward the edge of the screen or gravitate from the borders. You can control three color points to create a three-color transition, and you can change the number of dots, dot density and the intensity of the gravitational pull.

Tap at the bottom of the screen to reveal the controls. Each one has a popup dialogue describing its purpose.

In addition you can pause and restart the animation and send photos of transition stages to your gallery. You can add tunes from your iPod playlist. You can even set the app to something called gallery view, although I could find no explanation of what that is.

Gravilux offers a hidden control panel

You can customize the particles’ color transitions.

You can also customize particle features.

You will discover a lag time between the point at which you invoke the controls and the appearance of the pause button. This makes it extremely unlikely you will be able to pause the animation at the exact moment you want, but if you anticipate the particle movement you may be able to get a pretty good shot. This is a minor irritation, and the only real problem I stumbled onto. Which is why I didn’t bother to add a series of negative bullet points.

This may seem like a simple review, but it’s really a simple app. It may seem like a one trick pony to many users, but anyone who spent hours with a Kaleidoscope as a kid, or likes to watch fish swim in an aquarium, Gravilux offers a few minutes of relaxation from a stressful day, a meditation tool, or a chance to enjoy abstract art in the process of becoming.

Jenny Manytoes rates Gravilux

Jenny Manytoes makes biscuits on Gravilux. It’s like a litter box that doesn’t stink and that she doesn’t have to share with other cats.


1 Or you’re a stoner; not that the these are mutually exclusive. back

The Jenny Manytoes Rating System


Jenny Manytoes, our polydactyl cat
  • When Jenny makes biscuits on a product she thinks she’s in heaven.
  • When Jenny purrs over a product she’s very happy.
  • When Jenny naps next to a product it’s okay with her.
  • When Jenny bunches her tail she can live with a product, but she has higher expectations.
  • When Jenny leaves it in the litter box….I don’t think I need to explain this one.

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Jenny rates Change App Name

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Siamese Rescue


iPad Envy is created entirely using apps from my iPad
iPad Envy.

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About Phillip T Stephens

Phillip T. Stephens disappeared into the Bermuda Triangle twenty years before he was born, creating a time travel paradox so confusing it remains unspoken between physicists and sci-fi writers to this day. Follow @stephens_pt
This entry was posted in Entertainment, Free, iPad, Time Wasters and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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