Oko: An iPad App That Turns Satellite Photos Into Spinning Puzzles

I’m sure I’m not the only person who finds jigsaw puzzles totally maddening. It seems pretty clear that they’re a holdover from an era when the mean attention span could be measured in minutes, not seconds. Oko, however, is a bit better suited for people accustomed to living life at the speed of their Twitter timeline. The novel puzzle app for the iPad slices NASA satellite shots up into mesmerizing spinning scenes, and all you have to do solve them is wait for everything to line up, and then tap.

The app was conceived by Swiss designer Nadezda Suvorova and created in collaboration with developers Pierre Rossel and Jeremie Forge. Compared to the thousand-piece cardboard endeavors you might undertake on a long weekend, Oko’s puzzles are pretty low-impact–at least for the first five levels or so. Then pieces start spinning faster, and pieces start spinning within pieces, and then–yes, there it is!–you start to feel a bit of that old-school puzzle frustration come creeping back.

You start cursing the craggy peaks of the Burning Mountain in Namibia for looking so damn similar from space and wondering why the dumb old Shiveluch volcano in Kamchatka couldn’t develop a more distinct footprint after several hundred million years of tectonic activity. Yep, it happened: now you’ve got full-blown irrational puzzle rage. Just be glad you don’t have to solve these things to a timer.

The app, available for free, has 20 puzzles in all, and if nothing else, it’s a nice way to kill an hour during a road trip and remind yourself of the splendor of our humble planet. Also: a good reminder to think twice before you bust open that 750-piecer of the Golden Gate Bridge this holiday season.

Grab the app in the iTunes App Store

[Hat tip: Creators Project]