I’ll admit it: I’m a map and GPS nerd. I’m the one sitting on the bus in a new city, my eyes flickering back and forth between the scenery flashing by my window and the blue dot on my iPhone, tracking my movement. Good job, Mr. Bus Driver. You’re going the right way.
The World Atlas app, designed by the National Geographic Society, is therefore my new favorite method of procrastination. Forget games – I want to poke around Irish farms and Tibetan mountains. (Of course, this app can be an incredibly useful travel gadget, too.)
The app provides you with three high-quality maps; Executive, Political, and Satellite. You can switch back and forth between all three while zoomed in on any location. The maps are colorful and beautiful, and the zoom is phenomenal – within seconds you can go from staring at the entire world to staring at your very own house. (Why yes, that was the first thing I did. Wouldn’t you?)
While World Atlas has a lot of features, the app is very easy to navigate. Tap Nations on the top left to browse an alphabetical list of countries and find statistics like the capital, population, size, language, and a wiki-worthy wealth of additional information. Tap the arrow for the app to automatically locate the country on the map for you.
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Tap Index on the top right to browse and download continent maps in both Executive and Political style. You can also browse the major cities of the world, bookmark any spot with a pinpoint, and tap “Show My Location” to find yourself on the map.
The detail in the Satellite map is really wonderful. I saw my own backyard in Seattle, then zoomed in on a bus station near my old place in Suwon, South Korea within a minute. When you bookmark a location, you can add your own notes and load pictures from your iPhone right into the bookmark.
One of the most awesome things about good iPhone apps is the amount of info and resources they can provide for such a low price. For less than two dollars, World Atlas gives you a store full of maps and an encyclopedia’s worth of information. An awesome deal, whether you’re planning a trip to new territory or just making sure you got on the right bus from the pub.
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