World Atlas HD

7/7/2012 11:40:43 AM

One of two atlas apps offered by National Geographic, World Atlas HD delivers the world to your device. Of the two (the other is The World by National Geographic), this is the most popular and, for a couple of reasons, it’s easy to see why though some aspects are less than perfect.

Description: World Atlas HD

Upon opening, users are presented with an excellently rendered globe in portrait or landscape view that can spin and rotate with the touch of a finger. There are three looks, Executive ciew, Classic, and Satellite. Double tapping and pinching allows you to zoom in or out and moving your finger in any direction scrolls to a new part of the map.

If there is a Wi-Fi or cellular connection, you can zoom in as much as you like, all the way to road maps provided by Bing. Google Maps would have been much better but Bing is growing. If offline, you can only tap a few times before you get to a blank screen that you need to zoom out of to get back to your previous screen or area. The reason for this is to keep the app size down and users are encouraged to download maps and satellite views for offline use. It’s not ideal but the core idea is clever to at least save on file size.

World Atlas HD allows users to drop pins on the maps but you can’t go pin crazy. It’s only available for your current location and the capital cities around the world. Tapping and holding as you would in the built in maps app doesn’t allow you to place pins but it does call up a pop-up with useful information about the country you’ve tapped.

Bing Maps, the offline zoom and placing pins aren’t spectacular, but one of the best features is the distance scale bar in the upper left corner. Tapping and holding this turns it into a purple direction line what you can a fairly accurate idea of the distance between the two locations, which is great for travel plans.

Description: World Atlas HD

World Atlas HD is by no means perfect but the panning around and zooming is smooth, even if the app needs to redraw your view from time to time during the zoom. It happens quickly but it’s not seamless. There is a lot of potential here and some clever ideas that could be expanded upon, but it’s a good app and it’s clear that soon the role of an atlas and its feature set will dramatically change. Given that, it’s already it’s a long way from dog eared pages in a hand me down text book.


Compatible with



iOS 3.2 or later


$ 1.99




Sep 09, 2011




67.6 MB


National Geographic Society

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