The Scoop: Many couples enjoy romantic walks at night, so it’s no surprise that stargazing is a popular date activity. The Star Walk 2 App can make that experience even more interesting and informative. The popular astronomy app has 20 million users and allows starry-eyed romantics to navigate the night sky. The app can also provide plenty of astronomical conversation starters so dates last well into the night.
In the early 2000s, the Vito Technology team focused on creating technology to help people in vital industries, like farming and cross-country truck driving, navigate activities on land.
But when a team member stumbled upon a star database, Vito Technology pivoted its focus and began using its navigation software and logistics application to track the sky rather than staying grounded in land-based activities. The first version of the app, now Star Walk 2, was called Astronavigator, and it was simply a map of the stars in the sky for Windows Mobile users.
That meant couples could use their mobile devices to identify stars, constellations, and more on romantic nighttime dates.
When Apple introduced the first iPhone in 2007, Vito Technology developers started brainstorming new apps for the emerging market. At first, they used the technology to build utility programs that enhanced the function of mobile devices running Windows Mobile and Symbian. But with Apple, the team couldn’t figure out what to improve — or how to do it within its enclosed system.
To join the new Apple market, Vito Technology redesigned Astronavigator, named it Star Walk, and introduced it in the Apple Store.
“The first iPhone had the necessary sensors — a gyroscope and a compass — that immediately helped implement the Star Spotter function,” said Daria Anufrieva, Content Manager and Spokesperson for Star Walk 2. “There were already about 10 astronomical applications for the iPhone, but we wanted to make the best one.”
Within eight months, it reached the top of the Apple Store in its category. Today, Star Walk 2 has more than 20 million users, many of whom use the app to have more interesting, informative date nights.
Launched in 2014 with New Visuals and More Content
Vito Technology released the first version of Star Walk in 2008. But Daria said the real breakthrough came in mid 2009 Business Week published an interview with Julius Genachowski, the Chairman of the U.S. Federal Commission on Communications. Julius said his favorite app on his iPhone was Star Walk, which he used to teach his 5-year-old daughter about astronomy.
International attention grew, and in 2010 the app won the Apple Design Award at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference. In 2014, the team updated the app and released Star Walk 2. The latest version includes improved visuals, better controls, more content, and attractive three-dimensional models of celestial bodies.
The app’s 20 million users come from around the world, including — in order of user base size — the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Japan, and China. It’s available in 12 languages, including Italian, Spanish, Dutch, Korean, and Portuguese.
Daria said the majority of users are men between 22 and 44. Many follow the news, enjoy photography, follow sports, love music, and are interested in technology.
Many are also daters, or people in romantic relationships, looking for something to do with their special someone.
“Stargazing is a romantic activity that is available to everyone,” Daria said. “Spend the night soaking in the beauty of the stars, searching the sky for constellations, and maybe even wishing on a shooting star or two. You only need to know the weather forecast and stock up on a blanket and a thermos with hot tea or coffee.”
Navigate the Starry Sky with a Loved One
Users only need to open the Star Walk 2 app — available on iOS and Android — and tilt it toward the sky. Its built-in sensors, gyroscope, compass, and accelerometer work together to find where the device is pointed and display the appropriate images.
“Star Walk 2 will begin to follow your movements and show celestial bodies in real time,” Daria said. “Click on the camera icon in the upper right corner to enable the augmented reality feature.”
Users can take advantage of the search feature to look for specific objects by tapping the magnifying glass icon on the lower left corner of the screen. It categorizes all celestial bodies and makes them searchable within the app.
A feature called Visible Tonight shows the planets, constellations, and stars that users can view from a specific location.
It also includes an Astronomical News section, which distinguishes it from many other stargazing apps. Several times a week, the team publishes articles that describe various astronomical events, including planetary conjunctions, meteor showers, rocket launches, and spacecraft flights to Mars.
“We try to highlight the most exciting events for astronomy lovers,” Daria said. “If it is something you can observe in the sky with your own eyes, we will definitely tell you how, where, and when to look.”
The app includes another unique feature that comes in handy around the holidays for couples with little ones. Star Walk 2 allows users to track Santa Claus in flight across the sky as he makes his yearly trip spreading joy worldwide.
Star Walk 2: Plan a Romantic Date Under the Stars
Daria said the team had received plenty of feedback recently from couples who enjoy learning about astronomy together. The Star Walk 2 app has been especially welcome during lockdowns and other health precautions stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.
One recent reviewer said the app helps people slow down and remember what’s important.
“Once in a while, it’s nice to pause and look at the sky above us. It’s calming and healing, too,” the reviewer wrote.
Couples looking to start conversations can use the information from Star Walk 2, which also offers customized visual effects over the constellations and visual magnitude. Daria said it’s perfect for night hikes and camping.
“Star Walk 2 can help to bring something new to date, weather permitting,” Daria said. “The most beautiful planetarium is the starry sky, and with our augmented reality feature, you can get the ultimate immersive stargazing experience.”
The app makes such a stellar addition to dates that Daria said the team receives requests to put an engagement ring in the sky map for proposals. And the team is considering adding the feature.
In the meantime, the company has released another stargazing app called Sky Tonight. It’s a standalone app that complements Star Walk 2 with more unique features. The new app’s innovations will also improve the data in Star Walk 2.
“We carefully read all reviews and put significant attention on user wishes in the first place. Well, maybe except requests for making everything free — we still need to pay the team,” Daria said.