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Review: Barefoot World Atlas app

Barefoot World Atlas

The atlas app combines facts, sounds and animated illustrations for children to enjoy. The four buttons – Regions, Countries, Features and Favourites – make navigation easy.

I should probably start this review by disclosing that I have a terrible sense of direction – I semi-regularly lose my way in shopping centres and recently spent several hours driving around the Pretoria CBD with no clue where I was going. Not surprisingly, my geographical knowledge is equally as dismal as my directional skills are, making a children's atlas a good starting point for someone like me.

The app/barefoot-world-atlas/id489221652?mt=8">Barefoot World Atlas app is the iPad edition of the children's atlas of the same name. This “magical globe” was created through a partnership between Barefoot Books and Touch Press, in association with the Royal Geographic Society in London. “The Barefoot World Atlas app is a fully interactive globe, bursting with features, sound and information. Use it to explore the wonders of our planet,” says creator and author of the atlas, Nick Crane.

closer look at the surface of the globe, revealing hundreds of illustrations representing a feature linked to a specific location. A swipe spins the globe and the music changes as you travel from region to region.

[EMBEDDED]At the top-left are four buttons – Regions, Countries, Features and Favourites. If you select a specific region, the globe automatically rotates and highlights the selected region. The countries located in that region will also appear in a menu on the left. But that's not all; information detailing everything from the natural resources and climate, to the transport and population demographics of that region also appears. You can choose to read this information yourself or simply tap the speaker button to have it read to you.

Country info

Selecting the Countries button brings up a list of all the countries in the world with a quick-selection A to Z index, making finding your country of interest a lot quicker. Much like the Regions button, when you select a specific country, the globe repositions, focusing on that country and revealing a wealth of information about it.

If the iPad is connected to the Internet, the user can access live country data, including the current time and weather conditions in that country, as well as the capital city and size of the population. The Country button will even tell you how far away you are from the selected country by using your current location, and details the exchange rate you can expect to pay, should you wish to visit the location sometime soon. The arrows at the bottom right allow you to scroll through the countries in a certain region. Found something you like? You can add it to your Favourites list by tapping the star icon.

Illustrations and animations

The globe itself and the 400-odd illustrations dotted around it were hand-painted by David Dean. These icons come to life through animation and sound. For me, the animated illustrations were a real highlight, as children, or geographically juvenile adults like myself, can learn about the world and about different countries in a fun way.

When you select one of the illustration icons, information about that icon appears on the right and users can also view a photograph by selecting the picture icon below the text. My only concern is that some of the icons are quite random, but this is just a matter of opinion. For example, a cow illustration appears above Ireland. As stereotypical as it is, why not a leprechaun or a shamrock? For the most part though, the illustrations are great and the attention to detail in some of them is exceptional. The Serengeti zebra twitches its ears and swats flies with its tail, and the geyser in Iceland actually erupts.

In a nutshell

The Barefoot World Atlas app brings together interesting factoids, sounds and animated illustrations in an aesthetically pleasing and easy-to-use package. It is interactive, immersive and educational. Children and adults alike will easily become lost in this visual delight.


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