Mobile Applications in Cultural Heritage Context: A Survey

Mobile Applications in Cultural Heritage Context: A Survey

Manuel Silva, Diogo Morais, Miguel Mazeda, Luis Teixeira
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 28
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-3669-8.ch009
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As mobile technology sustains exponential growth and spread to all aspects of our everyday life and smartphone computational power increases, new promises arise for cultural institutions and citizens to use these tools for promoting cultural heritage. This survey proposes to review available smartphone applications (apps) relating to cultural heritage in three different contexts: cities, street art, and museums. Apps were identified by searching two app stores: Apple's App Store and Google Play (Android). A data search was undertaken using keywords and phrases relating to cities, street art, and museums. A total of 101 apps were identified (Google Play only= 7, Apple App Store only = 26, both Google Play and Apple App Store = 61, Apple Web Store and Web App = 6). Apps were categorized into the following categories: museums (39), street art (30), and cities (32). The most popular features are photos (96%) and maps (79%), and the most uncommon the 360 (4% – only in museums apps), games (6%), and video (15%).
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A smartphone is a mobile phone that includes advanced functionality beyond making phone calls and sending text messages (Christensson, 2010). Most smartphones have the capability to play audio or videos, display photos, and access Web. Modern smartphones, such as the Android and iPhone based phones can run third-party applications that present vast functionality.

The rapid advances of mobile technology and its expansion into the different aspects of our life while they become more reachable and common brings new opportunities for artists and institutions working with Cultural Heritage to use these tools for connecting in new ways and promoting their activities such as the market of tourist services (Madirov & Absalyamova, 2015).

With the advent of 5G mobile technology, these applications will suffer a boom. This chapter presents a survey of mobile apps designed to provide digital experiences in cities, museums and street art events all around the world. It will discuss existing apps in these contexts (e.g multimedia guided tours to the permanent collections or temporary exhibitions, artworks, city apps), the different use of media, and the type of user interaction and involvement they support.

This survey was carried out under the goals of the Cooperative Holistic View on the Internet and Content (CHIC) project. The CHIC project aims to develop a set of digital platforms, based on open formats and interoperable technologies that promote and increase the dynamics of Portuguese media content creation. The author’s participation in the CHIC project is focused on content creation for the cultural and historical heritage of Porto city, specifically on museums, cities and urban art applications. The aim is to promote the cultural content of objects, artworks, stories, places, and buildings in the city, by developing a georeferenced augmented reality platform. To achieve this goal, it is important to have a deeper understanding of the existing solutions that allow users to experience heritage and places, through a mobile application. A good portrayal of current apps, available features, and media use provide feedback to potential users on how to develop new georeferenced apps. These apps provide users with access to a vast number of different experiences in places, such as a city or a museum, using different mediums through their mobile apps.

Understanding the existing characteristics of smartphones in cultural heritage will increase our understanding of what has been created so far, where the potential of mobile technology may be the best use in the future. Thus, in this study, the authors systematically review existing smartphone apps dedicated to cultural heritage, particularly in museums, streets, and cities, available in app stores, to identify trends and current features with potential impact in new apps development. A second goal is to find and study applications with features such as GPS, Live Notifications, Map, Photos, Video, Audio, Games, Augmented Reality, combined into a single app.

Key Terms in this Chapter

UNWTO: United Nations World Tourism Organization is the responsible agency for the promotion of responsible, sustainable and universally accessible.

GIF: The graphics interchange format is a bitmap image format. It has come into widespread usage on the World Wide Web due to its wide support and portability between many applications and operating systems.

Urban Art: Any art in the style of street art, graffiti, or mural art. usually associated with major interventions, almost exclusively legal, usually by order and directed to a general public.

Microtransactions: This is when users can pay for virtual goods with micropayments in virtual worlds.

Graffiti: Letters painted illegally in the form of names based on aesthetics or the common logic of graffiti as a culture.

Street Art: Interventions that can be based on text or image, created illegally in the urban space.

App Store: An app store is a type of digital distribution platform for computer software called Applications, often in a mobile context. Apps are normally designed to run on a specific operating system, such as the contemporary iOS, macOS, Windows, or Android.

Public Art: Contemporary artworks located in public space.

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