I still marvel at the fact that the enormous dictionaries, encyclopedias, and atlases I used as a child to learn about the world and complete what seemed like endless amounts of homework at the time are now condensed into digital forms that can be carried in your pocket. And these digital versions can offer so much more interactivity than their older paper counterparts, making them small wonders in and of themselves. HarperCollins’ latest entry, Atlas, in the App Store definitely counts as one of these small wonders.
Atlas by Collins™ was designed to revolutionize how people find information about the world around them,” said Sheena Barclay, Managing Director of the Collins Geo Division. “This app is a gateway to an amazing amount of information about our planet, its people and the way we live. For the first time, the Apple platform provides the processing power and functionality to bring a world-class Atlas app to people all over the planet. Through Atlas by Collins™, Apple device owners can now see the world in context and keep up-to-date with it as it evolves.
Atlas offers information on the earth’s geography, environment, and population plus political maps and overviews of energy and technology usage around the world via seven virtual themed globes. The Satellite Map globe is loaded and ready for your viewing pleasure when you download the app, with the other globes available for download at no charge.
You can pinch and zoom on each globe to focus in on an area or use the search field at the top of the screen to find exactly what you’re looking for more quickly. Double-tapping on a marked point on a globe prompts a pop-up with more information.
Here’s a trailer that HarperCollins created:
As shown in the trailer, more virtual globes focusing on sports, economics, and UNESCO World Heritage sites will be available in the future via in-app purchase, though there’s no official word yet on how much these will cost.
HarperCollins also created several how-to videos for Atlas, which you can find here.
Atlas offers an impressive amount of information in a highly-polished package. If you’re at all curious about our planet and what’s happening on it, go download Atlas now while it’s still at its special introductory price of $9.99 (a bargain considering that a paper version of any reputable atlas will cost you at least twice as much). While Atlas is s universal app, note that it will only run on newer iOS devices because of its graphics-intensive nature, so don’t hit that download link unless you’ve got an iPhone 4 or newer (yes, if you have an iPhone 3GS or older, you’re out of luck here), a 4th- or 5th-generation iPod touch, or an iPad 2 or 3. You’ll need to be running iOS 5.0 or later as well.