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Review: National Geographic’s ‘Our World’ for the iPad

Having spent endless hours flying around the world with Google Earth, I’m always game for new global adventures. I found plenty here along with a spectacular photo gallery.

Screen shot from 'The World by National Geographic'

Title: The World by National Geographic
Developed by: National Geographic Society
Platform: iOS, requires 4.2 or later

Gr 4 UpThis hybrid globe and atlas will put the world at students’ fingertips. Internet access is required to take full advantage of its features.

Upon opening the app, a computer-generated 3-D globe appears on the screen. Swipe it to make it spin; pinch it and it will zoom in and out. Yellow dots label regions and oceans when tapped. The globe may be viewed in three modes: reference, terrain, or ocean. The latter option is visually impressive; all the landmasses are in black, offering a striking contrast to the world’s oceans, which are illuminated in bright blue. The reference mode depicts political boundaries but doesn’t include country names. A camera icon in the lower right corner of the screen offers users the choice of emailing a map screen shot or posting one on Facebook or Twitter, but attempts to use this feature weren’t successful.

Screen shot from 'The World by National Geographic' Photo by Annie Griffiths

The menu located on the bottom of each screen makes navigating between the globe and the maps seamless. Users may select maps by continent and region or from an alphabetical list of nations (illustrated with country flags). Index letters on the side of the screen aid in quick access to the material. Zooming in on country maps provides details of the selected area, zooming out embeds the map into a globe providing geographical context.

The fast facts and brief description of the geography, weather, population, and economy about each nation will prove useful to students doing basic research or in need of some quick information. The new nation of South Sudan is represented, but recent events in Libya and Tunisia are not mentioned. Statistics, when cited, generally date around 2008. A few stunning color photos are provided for each nation profile. Despite a few flaws, The World would make a valuable classroom tool and an inexpensive addition to personal collections.—Cathy Potter, Falmouth Elementary School, Falmouth, ME


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