Feb 192012

This post looks at some geography-specific apps.

Google Earth needs little introduction and is lovely to use on the iPad. There are a number of limitations, the Layers panel is restricted in scope and there are no content creation tools. You can log in to see any maps created in Google My Maps, but in short, the desktop version is still essential.


My Maps Editor is the missing half of Google Earth. Log in with your Google account and your My Maps are available but  also the full tool set for creating KML points paths and polygons. The map is GPS enabled and photos can be appended to placemark descriptions. My Maps Editor is a great tool for active fieldwork as well as classroom use. Schools that use Google Apps will have an advantage.


One of a pair of indispensable atlas apps, Earth Observer is for viewing physical features, natural hazards and human impacts at an impressive range of scales. It’s easy to save screenshots of generated maps.


Spotzi Atlas is a great companion to Earth Observer. It offers a variety of physical human and economic themes, with an intuitive interface and useful information about the data layers. Highly recommended.

 Although I haven’t made use of it, ESRI deserve a mention for their ArcGIS iPad viewer. The Gallery content is mainly US focussed, though the UK unemployment map is a useful resource. ArcGIS users will disagree, but for me it’s too time consuming to locate useful maps.


iGeology is an essential app for physical geographers. It’s a simple interactive  UK geology map that’s GPS enabled. No frills and no cost either.


More of a personal tool than a classroom resource, but OS maps on any computing platform, especially if you’re after 1:25,000 scale are rarely simple or cheap to obtain. There’s little option but to stump up the cash for a navigation product and View Ranger has easily trumped Memory Map and other alternatives for me. On an iPhone, View Ranger is easy to use and very accurate, and once you have brought maps you can view them on any device including a desktop computer.

The View Ranger site lets you create download and upload routes and share data with other users.

Now of course, if you don’t need 1:25,000 scale mapping, there’s a mobile version of Where’s the Path? as well as a touch device test version.
Here’s a killer iPad tip for saving crucial pages like Wheres the Path? Visit the page on your iPad then click the “add” icon and select Add to Home Screen. Now there’s an icon on your iPad that opens the page each time!


Finally, I’d like to share National Geographic’s 7 Billion publication that’s a great iPad resource (though a large download so I don’t store it on my iPad all the time.) It’s an example of the kind of interactive content that is both great on a touch screen, and projects well onto a screen. iTunes U is the place to check for similar content for older learners, and there’s a simple library app to manage subscriptions from iTunes U.



The final post will round up the other non-subject specific apps for teaching that I use regularly.