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Collins Atlas for iPhone App Review

Collins Atlas for iPhone App Review

There was once a time before the widespread use of the internet that anyone born before 1990 will remember, when if you wanted to find something out about the world you had to look it up in a book, or at least look it up on Encarta if you were privileged enough to own the CD-ROM. For world-related queries in particular, the best place to look was what was known as an atlas and one of the most respected publishers of the atlas was Collins. Unfortunately these days such books are not consulted as often, but Collins have managed to keep up with the times and bring us this rather wonderful app that translates their work into an interactive format just perfect for iOS devices.

Collins Atlas is a great app that brings the whole world to your device in the form of a virtual satellite globe, which you can explore at will with a few simple gestures. But this is just the beginning and the app more than lives up to its $9.99 price tag because you can zoom right in and when you tap on a city or landmark, you are provided with a page of information about it.

You may only see this globe at first but there are in fact a total of seven free globes and you can easily download the others, which present different aspects of the earth. For example, a physical map allows you to see 3D landscapes and shows you the shapes of mountains and other physical features. Other globes highlight other aspects, such as the environment, politics and populations, using colour coding to keep it simple. The only flaw here is that the information provided is not particularly detailed and it would be nice if a more encyclopaedic level of knowledge had been included.

As it is, Collins Atlas offers everything the original book could and then builds on it. Rather than dividing up the world between pages you can see everything seamlessly and explore at will. The controls are easy to use and work very smoothly, while the interactivity makes it all the more appealing. Downloadable updates mean you can always keep the maps and information up to date with the real world and a lot of the information within is maintained even when offline. There are also more features on the way, to broaden the options available during your globetrotting sessions.

One notable feature is the way it integrates into Apple Maps, which could be good or bad depending on your point of view. The maps provided are all based on the app’s own data but if you zoom in close enough it goes beyond this and implements the Apple maps instead.

Collins Atlas is an excellent app that takes an important book and enhances it for the digital age. It is easy to use and informative, if a little limited, but there is still a lot to discover and you can spend a lot of enjoyable time exploring it.

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