EasyCellBio ($15.99 in the App Store and the
Microsoft Store, with site licenses available; created by Loïc Letertre; updated July 22, 2017)
Educational software has made a dramatic
frameshift in the past 10 years. Software publishers are no longer producing CD-ROMs
that are used in classrooms. Instead they are
releasing their software online and designing
it specifically for use on either a computer or
a portable device, such as a phone or tablet.
Such is the case with this excellent new biology app.
EasyCellBio is the brainchild of a French
medical researcher living in Iceland who
wanted to marry his three main passions –
biology, teaching, and 3D programming. His
app has achieved such a union, providing
one of the most realistic and engaging (not
to mention inexpensive) pieces of science
software. The tagline for the app is “real-time
interactive cell biology,” and it does not disappoint. The graphics are very engaging,
and quite a bit of useful information is presented as the user moves through.
Upon launching the app, users are pre-
sented with a menu that allows them to
change the resolution and the input device.
The resolution comes preset at the maximum,
but the app allows for any number of other
configurations, which will be very useful
when viewing the app on a smaller screen.
There are also instructions on the controls
and the notes windows. EasyCellBio has a
neat feature that allows users to copy and
paste from the text presented in the app itself,
or to paste in additional information from out-
side sources, for future use. Students will find
this feature particularly useful as they look
elsewhere for additional content but want to
keep all their notes in the same location.
The main screen of EasyCellBio has two
main directions the user can go in. The first
is the “Library.” Here, the different organelles
found in the cell are presented in 3D anima-
tion form. When the mouse is moved over a
part of an organelle, a label for that part
appears. There is also a “General Info” link
on each organelle page that provides a lot
more detail about the particular organelle, as
well as a “Structure” link that brings the user
deeper into what makes up the organelle.
For example, when the cell membrane is
selected, there is a link to a page about its
composition, including animations and more
information about membrane lipids, choles-
terol, membrane proteins, and glycoproteins.
Additional linked pages provide information
about lipid mobility, distribution, rate, and
membrane protein interactions.
The second main section of the app is
called “Cell Simulation.” Here the user enters
a cell and can freely zoom around, getting up-
close and personal with the organelles. This
section of the app is still a work in progress.
The software designer states that plans for this
section include “being able to fly inside, get
information on every element by interacting
with it and witness cellular processes in a vir-
tual ‘in situ.’ It will be like walking, or ‘flying’
in a ‘world sized’ living cell.”
EasyCellBio would be a great addition to
any general or cell biology class. The informa-
tion provided is detailed but easy to compre-
hend. Students in middle school and up will
find the app engaging and even fun to use.
Its availability as a direct download (from the
App Store or the Microsoft Store) may pose
a problem for teachers, as each copy will need
to be purchased separately. However, site
licensing is available. Additionally, updates
with new features and bug fixes are planned
for release once per year. There will be no
additional charge for these, nor should owners
have to download anything additional. The
updates should occur automatically.
This is a great piece of software that will
enhance learning about the cell and its pro-
cesses. The next update is scheduled to add
a cellular metabolism section that will contain
content on glycolysis, the Krebs cycle, and
electron transport. As cells are very complex
structures, the amount of material that could
be added is pretty much endless. Hopefully
this app will continue to grow as new discov-
eries are made.
Jeffrey D. Sack
Science Education Consultant/Writer
Westbrook, CT 06498
The American Biology Teacher, Vol. 81, No. 8, p. 596, ISSN 0002-7685, electronic ISSN 1938-4211. © 2019 National Association of Biology Teachers. All rights
reserved. Please direct all requests for permission to photocopy or reproduce article content through the University of California Press’s Reprints and Permissions web page,
www.ucpress.edu/journals.php?p=reprints. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1525/abt.2019.81.8.596.
JEFFREY D. SACK, DEPARTMENT EDITOR